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Directional Preferences, Information Processing, and Investors' Forecasts of Earnings

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  • JEFFREY HALES

Abstract

ABSTRACT This paper investigates the effects of preferences on judgments in an investing context, where investors should be motivated to interpret information objectively, yet have clear preferences with respect to what the information they are evaluating conveys (i.e., a gain or a loss on their investment). The results of the experiment are consistent with theories of motivated reasoning that predict when and in what manner directional preferences affect how information is processed. Specifically, investors are motivated to agree unthinkingly with information that suggests they might make money on their investment, but disagree with information that suggests they might lose money. In disagreeing, long investors expect earnings to be relatively high and short investors expect earnings to be relatively low. These results have implications not only for understanding investor behavior, but also for understanding the biased behavior of market participants who face conflicts of interest, such as analysts, managers, and auditors, by providing direct evidence that such behavior can arise for purely psychological reasons. Copyright University of Chicago on behalf of the Institute of Professional Accounting, 2007.

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  • Jeffrey Hales, 2007. "Directional Preferences, Information Processing, and Investors' Forecasts of Earnings," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(3), pages 607-628, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:joares:v:45:y:2007:i:3:p:607-628
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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Clara Xiaoling & Rennekamp, Kristina M. & Zhou, Flora H., 2015. "The effects of forecast type and performance-based incentives on the quality of management forecasts," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 8-18.
    2. Nicholas Seybert & Robert Bloomfield, 2009. "Contagion of Wishful Thinking in Markets," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(5), pages 738-751, May.
    3. Lisa Koonce & Steven Cahan, 2013. "Discussion of ‘Is the objectivity of internal audit compromised when the internal audit function is a management training ground?’," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 53(4), pages 1021-1028, December.
    4. Long, James H. & Basoglu, K. Asli, 2016. "The impact of task interruption on tax accountants' professional judgment," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 96-113.
    5. Jeremy Burke & Angela Hung & Jack Clift & Steven Garber & Joanne K. Yoong, 2015. "Impacts of Conflicts of Interest in the Financial Services Industry," Working Papers WR-1076, RAND Corporation.
    6. Da Costa, Newton & Goulart, Marco & Cupertino, Cesar & Macedo, Jurandir & Da Silva, Sergio, 2013. "The disposition effect and investor experience," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 1669-1675.
    7. Hilary, Gilles & Hsu, Charles, 2011. "Endogenous overconfidence in managerial forecasts," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 300-313, April.
    8. Mayorga, Diane & Trotman, Ken T., 2016. "The effects of a reasonable investor perspective and firm's prior disclosure policy on managers' disclosure judgments," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 50-62.
    9. Hales, Jeffrey, 2015. "Discussion of “The effects of forecast type and performance-based incentives on the quality of management forecasts”," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 19-22.

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