Source amnesia is a psychological phenomenon in which an individual’s memory of an event is present, but they are unable to recall the origin or source of the information. This can lead to a person mistakenly attributing the memory to a different source or misremembering the details surrounding the event.


Source amnesia can occur due to various factors:

  • Encoding failure: When the information is not adequately processed or encoded into memory, making it difficult to retrieve the source.
  • Interference: When memories associated with different sources become intertwined or confused, resulting in the inability to distinguish the correct source.
  • Emotional factors: Strong emotions linked to an event can overshadow the encoding and later retrieval of the source of the memory.


Common examples of source amnesia include:

  • Forgetting the source of a news article or a piece of information read online and mistakenly attributing it to a different source.
  • Recollecting a memory from childhood but being uncertain whether it originated from a personal experience or a story heard from someone else.


Source amnesia can have various implications:

  • False memories: It can contribute to the creation of false memories, as individuals may invent or confuse the source of a memory.
  • Misinformation: Source amnesia can lead to the spread of misinformation, as people unknowingly attribute information to inaccurate or unreliable sources.
  • Legal implications: In legal contexts, source amnesia can affect eyewitness testimony, as individuals may be confident about the details of an event but mistaken about the source of their knowledge. This highlights the fallibility of memory as evidence.

Overall, source amnesia highlights the complex nature of human memory and emphasizes the importance of critical thinking and verifying the accuracy of information.