Accounting Choice & Opportunistic Behavior – A Behavioral Sciences Perspective on the Rational Decision-Maker

  • Odd Stalebrink Penn State University
Keywords: Accounting Choice, “Opportunistic, Behavioral Economics, Professional Gatekeepers, Governmental Accounting


This essay adds to the extant body of research, conducted on opportunistic accounting choice,
by examining it through the lenses of behavioral economics. It shows that this perspective can
be usefully applied to shed light on extant findings, which have shown that the presence of
professional gatekeepers, such as independent auditors and actuaries are likely to deter
opportunistic accounting choice. While the behavioral economics perspective does not refute
the value of relying on professionals, it suggests that extant findings might be overstating the
ability of professionals to combat opportunistic accounting choice, due to researchers’ reliance
on normative models.

1.2 The Dark Side of Management and Accounting