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The effects of the method used to present a complex item on the face of a financial statement on nonprofessional investors' judgments

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  • Ragland, Linda
  • Reck, Jacqueline L.

Abstract

Our study is motivated by standard setters' (FASB, 2010; IASB, 2010a) interest in better understanding the effects of item complexity and disaggregation of financial information on users' decision processes. We examine whether the method used to present a complex item on a financial statement influences nonprofessional investors' judgments. We also examine whether disaggregation influences how different levels of item complexity are associated with judgments. Using a 2×2 between-subjects experiment, we manipulate variables representing presentation method (disaggregation versus aggregation) and level of item complexity (which is defined pension cost with high versus low volatility). With a sample of 114 nonprofessional investors, we find that when the complex item defined pension cost is disaggregated into its component parts and displayed in different sections of the statement of comprehensive income, nonprofessional investors acquire more information about the item and are able to more accurately understand the function of the item. This, in turn, helps the nonprofessional investors decide whether the information is useful in certain judgments. Additionally, we find that when a complex item is disaggregated, nonprofessional investors place even greater weight on their perceptions of level of item complexity in certain judgments. The results of this study are of value to managers, standard setters, and investors. For instance, results suggest that disaggregating a complex item across a financial statement can help nonprofessional investors learn how the component(s) driving a complex item relates to different economic events, improving their ability to understand and process the information in their judgments.

Suggested Citation

  • Ragland, Linda & Reck, Jacqueline L., 2016. "The effects of the method used to present a complex item on the face of a financial statement on nonprofessional investors' judgments," Advances in accounting, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 77-89.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:advacc:v:34:y:2016:i:c:p:77-89
    DOI: 10.1016/j.adiac.2016.07.006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin, Rachel, 2019. "Examination and implications of experimental research on investor perceptions," Journal of Accounting Literature, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 145-169.

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