Management Notes

Reference Notes for Management

Source Monitoring Error – Concept, Examples and Types | General Psychology

Source Monitoring Error

The source monitoring errors occur when normal memory recall and perception are disrupted, resulting in a memory error. The source monitoring process is an unconscious mental test humans perform to determine if a memory is “real” and accurate and not derived from an extraneous source such as a dream or a movie. The source of a memory or idea can be found in many different places. In the event that source monitoring is disrupted, errors in recall can occur. An instance of this is when a memory is falsely attributed to an incident recalled in the past.

Source Monitoring is a set of processes involved in determining how memories, knowledge, and beliefs are derived.” In addition to the reality monitoring that determines internal or external origin, Source Monitoring is the process of understanding and identifying the external source (external monitoring), and determining what is said or acted based on what the individual imagined or thought (internal monitoring).

  • The results of neuroanatomical studies indicate that lesions in the frontal and temporal lobes are associated with problems with Source Monitoring. Generally, the temporal medial lobe encodes, organizes, and stores information while the frontal regions analyze, search, and retrieve it.
  • It is conventional to study source monitoring by having a subject decide if a word belongs to a previously presented list or if it has been previously produced by himself or by the examiner (reality monitoring).
  • It has also been investigated whether humans are able to discriminate between imaginary or seen items and those verbally expressed by them (internal monitoring). Source Monitoring is reported to alter with various forms of dementia, in addition to normal aging.
  • Psychologists have noted a deficit in monitoring mental activity in schizophrenia patients, in addition to a nuclear failure in belonging and self-identification. They have also noted difficulty identifying mental acts as their own or those of others.
    It has been reported that patients with schizophrenia make errors more frequently, including the recognition of words not previously presented, the attribution to the examiner of their own items, and the confusion of mental acts with actions carried out.
  • Psychopathologists have postulated that Source Monitoring Errors are associated with psychotic symptoms in people with schizophrenia and with schizotypy traits in the general population. Source monitoring errors are also reported to be inversely related to deficit symptoms, although this relationship has been much less studied.



In source monitoring, an example of a source monitoring error is interpreting a conversation that occurred in a dream as real. An injury to the brain (specifically frontal lobe damage), amnesia, aging, depression, and high stress may trigger these errors. Cognitive biases may also contribute to these errors. According to Nancy Franklin’s research, people recall “reliable” sources as being reliable, and “unreliable” sources as being unreliable.

An incorrect source-monitoring error occurs when a memory is attributed incorrectly to a recollected experience. It is not uncommon for individuals to learn about a current event from a friend, but then later report having heard about it on the local news, thereby reflecting a wrong source attribution. Source monitoring processes can be disrupted by either limited encoding of source information or by a disruption to normal perceptual or reflective processes. These factors, as well as high stress levels and damage to relevant brain areas, can cause such disruptions and hence source-monitoring errors.

It is believed that source-monitoring involves, rather than receiving a label for a memory during processing, activating and evaluating memory records in order to attribute a memory to a source. The process of source monitoring relies heavily on the individual’s activated memory records. If anything prevents the individual from encoding the contextual details of an event as it happens, relevant information will not be fully retrieved, and errors will occur. Having highly differentiated memory representations means fewer errors will occur, or vice versa.

There are two types of cognitive judgement processes regarding source-monitoring; heuristic judgment and systematic judgement.

Heuristic Judgements

Individuals make heuristic judgements quickly without being aware of their actions, using perceptual, contextual, and other event-based information. Since they are efficient, they are more common since they happen automatically without any conscious effort on the part of the individual. Typically, sources are judged based on the importance of a source and the significance of a memory arising at a certain time or place; errors occur based on the amount of information encoded or the way the brain processes the information based on prior experiences. An “heuristic” is a decision process within the source-monitoring model; this term refers to psychological heuristics.

Systematic Judgements

Systematic judgements are decisions whose procedures are accessed by the individual consciously. They use the same kinds of information that heuristic judgements do. This process involves retrieving all memory-relevant information from memory and evaluating it deliberately to determine whether a memory originated from a specific source. In source judgments, systematic judgements are less prevalent since they are slow and require a lot of effort. When memories are misinterpretted, errors may occur due to an incorrect allocation of weight to certain aspects.

For example, denying the importance of visual details would lead to the assumption that the event didn’t take place or was imagined. People will make errors if their subjective logic causes them to perceive an event as unlikely to occur or as belonging to a specific source even though the truth is otherwise. The simple process of memory decay can lead to errors in both judgements, as it can prevent an individual from accessing relevant memory information, resulting in source-monitoring errors.

Types of Source Monitoring Error

Source-monitoring consists of three major types: external source-monitoring, internal source-monitoring, and reality monitoring, all of which are susceptible to errors and use the two kinds of judgment.

  • External source-monitoring
    A source monitoring system differentiates between externally retrieved sources, such as events happening in the individual’s surroundings. Identifying a friend who said something rude is an example of this.
  • Internal source-monitoring
    Source monitoring focuses on discriminating between externally derived sources, such as the memory of the individual. Differentiating between remembered thoughts and spoken ideas is an example of this.
  • Reality monitoring
    The third type of reality monitoring, also known as internal and external reality monitoring, distinguishes between sources that are retrieved internally and externally. In real life and in a newspaper, a plane crashed into a building, but in real life it is portrayed differently.

Perceptual Constancy – Types of Perceptual Constancy | General Psychology

1 thought on “Source Monitoring Error – Concept, Examples and Types | General Psychology”

Leave a Comment