Source Monitoring is a cognitive process that involves the identification and tracking of the origins or sources of information or memories. It refers to an individual’s ability to distinguish between different sources of information: whether it came from personal experiences, external events, or obtained from other people or media.


Source Monitoring is based on the assumption that memories or information can become dissociated from their original source and can be attributed erroneously to a different source. This cognitive process is essential for critically evaluating the accuracy and reliability of memories, determining the credibility of information, and making informed decisions based on the sources of knowledge.


  1. Encoding: During the encoding phase, Source Monitoring helps in attributing appropriate sources to the information being processed and encoded into memory.
  2. Retrieval: During the retrieval phase, Source Monitoring aids in recalling and retracing the source from which a memory or information originated.
  3. Monitoring: Source Monitoring plays a vital role in the monitoring and evaluation of the sources of information to ensure accuracy and avoid misinformation.


Source Monitoring can be prone to various errors, such as:

  • Source Misattribution: This occurs when a memory or information is attributed to an incorrect source.
  • Cryptomnesia: It refers to a situation when a person is not aware that a particular memory or information originated from their own past experiences and mistakenly believes it to be a new idea or creation.
  • False Recognition: False recognition happens when a person incorrectly identifies something as familiar, even though they have not encountered it before.


Source Monitoring is crucial for maintaining accurate memory representations, avoiding memory distortions, and making informed judgments. It helps individuals in distinguishing between their own experiences, information acquired from external sources, and misinformation. This cognitive process provides a foundation for critical thinking, decision-making, and assessing the credibility and reliability of information in various contexts.