Monitoring the source monitoring
The hypothesis that the retrieval of correct source memory cues, those leading to a correct source attribution, increases confidence, whereas the retrieval of incorrect source memory cues, those leading to a source misattribution, decreases confidence was tested. Four predictions were derived from this hypothesis: (1) confidence should be higher for correct than incorrect source attribution except; (2) when no source cues are retrieved; (3) only the source misattributions inferred from the retrieval of incorrect source cues will be rated with low confidence; and (4) the number of source cues retrieved, either correct or incorrect, will affect the confidence in the source attributions. To test these predictions, participants read two narratives from two witnesses to a bank robbery, a customer and a teller. Then, participants completed a source monitoring test with four alternatives, customer, teller, both, or neither, and rated their confidence in their source attribution. Results supported the first three predictions, but they also suggested that the number of correct source monitoring cues retrieved did not play a role in the monitoring of the accuracy of the source attributions. Attributions made from the recovery of incorrect source cues could be tagged as dubious or uncertain, thus leading to lowered confidence irrespective of the number of incorrect source cues or whether another correct source cue was also recovered. This research has potential applications for eyewitness memory because it shows that confidence can be an indicator of the accuracy of a source attribution.