CSUF News Service
Meet Bachman Fulmer
Mixing Science and Accounting
Aug. 28, 2014
Bachman Fulmer hadn't always planned on teaching.
He earned his bachelor's and MBA — at University of Georgia and Florida State University — and settled into his chosen field, serving first with Ernst and Young LLP and then in internal audit for a former client.
"I was happy being an auditor," says the assistant professor of accounting, who began teaching on campus this summer. But he began to think about "what I wanted my career to be about – how I could do the most good for others."
"I thought back to my faculty members, what they provided to me and I wanted to do the same for my students."
He returned to Florida State University, where he opened his analytical mind to the opportunities of using psychology in his research. The resultant study, "Attention and Effort in an Investment Decision under the Influence of Gains and Losses," earned this year's American Accounting Association/Grant Thornton Doctoral Dissertation Award for Innovation in Accounting Education.
"I basically embedded myself in the Psychology Department for a couple of years," said the scholar, who used eye tracking, electroencephalography (EEG) and galvanic skin response (GSR) measurements to better understand "what information people prefer when making an investment decision and how hard they worked at making that decision."
Fulmer had participants look at a computer screen containing accounting and non-accounting information. Then, by using an eye-tracking device, he was able to see and track not only what grabbed the subjects' attention, but also how long that information held the viewers' attention. EEG and GSR measured electrical responses providing evidence of effort levels as participants studied the material and completed a series of investment decisions.
"I got very excited to use technology such as this in accounting, where it has not yet received much attention," said Fulmer, explaining that such research has implications into how people use accounting information and what type of information matters to them. "In an investment scenario, for instance, we get new and very detailed insight into how people behave after having experienced a lot of success in the market and how they act when things go badly."
Fulmer has additional research projects underway or planned that touch on auditing and information systems in addition to financial accounting and investment decision making. He is looking to establish relationships with other researchers, local firms and businesses with an interest in this type of applied research.
And the decision to return to the classroom, this time as a teacher? The rewards are already evident.
"I think the students here have been outstanding," he explained. "They have been very motivated and dedicated to their studies. It's been a great experience."