As some have observed, popular cinema is an influential medium that reflects and shapes social attitudes. Bearing that in mind, how have twentieth century North American movies portrayed accountant stereotypes?

To find out, Tony Dimnik (Assistant Professor at the Queen’s School of Business, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada), and Sandra Felton (Associate Professor of Accounting at the Department of Accounting and Finance, Faculty of Business, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada), coded 41 characteristics of 168 movie characters who portrayed accountants in twentieth century North American movies.

The team used factor analysis techniques to reduce these data to six factors, and then applied a cluster-analysis methodology which identified no less than five distinct filmically stereotypical accountants. Which are :

“Dreamer, Plodder, Eccentric, Hero and Villain.”

It was further determined that, as in real life, a formal accountancy qualification, such as a CPA or CA, can make a measurable difference to an accountant’s prospects. “Characters with CPAs or CAs are more likely to be Heroes than any other stereotype.” – explain the authors.

Their paper: Accountant stereotypes in movies distributed in North America in the twentieth century is published in the journal Accounting, Organizations and Society Volume 31, Issue 2,  Pages 129-155.

(The research was supported by a grant from the Canadian Academic Accounting Association.)