How does memory self-efficacy affect source memory within a reality monitoring task?
The ability to correctly identify the source of a memory is of vital importance to a person’s everyday life. According to the source monitoring framework, memories do not contain source labels, and inferences about the source of a memory must be drawn from the quality of a memory itself. Thus, errors in source memory can occur either due to the quality of the memory in question or due to the inference drawn from characteristics of the memory trace. Recent research has shown the effects of beliefs and expectations on memory, including memory self-efficacy, or belief in one’s ability to succeed in memory tasks. However, the proposed mechanisms through which memory self-efficacy affects memory vary widely and have not been systematically investigated and compared. The current studies demonstrate that the correlation between self-efficacy and memory ability extends to reality monitoring tasks. However, they yield an overall lack of evidence that self-efficacy increases engagement with reality monitoring tasks during encoding. While some evidence suggests that memory self-efficacy shifts the characteristics used to draw reality monitoring inferences, the effects were relatively small, and the shifts in memory self-efficacy did not impact memory accuracy. These findings suggest investigation of other sources of the memory self-efficacy/performance relationship, such as metacognitive awareness. These results have implications for basic research in memory, as well as for practical applications of memory research, such as memory training interventions and eyewitness testimony.