Professional skepticism is an attitude that includes a questioning mind, being alert to conditions that may indicate possible misstatement due to error or fraud, and critical assessment of audit evidence.
In order to have and maintain a professional skepticism auditor need to be independent of the client, he is auditing. Therefore, any threat to auditor’s independence is also a threat to auditor’s professional skepticism. Threats to auditor’s independence include:
- Self-interest threats: This is a threat to auditor’s independence, which arises because auditors have obtained financial or other types of benefits from the client. So auditors may not maintain the attitude of professional skepticism since doing so may harm or reduce the benefits he obtains from the client.
- Familiarity threats: This is a threat to auditors’ independence which arises due to close family or personal relationships between auditors and clients. This may be a threat to the auditor’s professional skepticism since the auditor may not be able to critically evaluate the evidence presented to him due to his close relationship with the client.
- Advocacy threat: This threat arises when auditors defend the position of the client. Defending the client may limit the professional skepticism of the auditor since the auditor can not critically assess the issues which he did advocate during the audit.
- Self-review threat: This is a threat to Independence which arises when the auditor audits the information which he was involved to prepare. This may harm the auditor’s professional skepticism since it is difficult to see faults in your own work.
- Intimidation threats: This is a threat to independence which arises when the auditor is physically or otherwise bullied in such a way that he is afraid to exercise his independence. This can also be a threat to professional skepticism since auditors will be afraid to be critical for fear of being harmed physically or financially.
Therefore, to maintain a professional skepticism auditor is required to be independent, as a result, any threats to Independence are a threat to auditor’s professional skepticism.