Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award

January 2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Pascal Boyer


Source memory is memory for where, when, how, and from whom information was received. Current source memory literature focuses mainly on memory for incidental information: i.e., where, when, how) rather than source identity: i.e., who). This dissertation addressed the role of source memory in social contexts and memory for source identity. Four experiments were designed to investigate the effects of information valence, target familiarity, and source congruence. 120 participants viewed a series of negative and positive statements about two targets provided by four sources and were later asked to identify the source of the information. Targets were considered positive and negative figures. Thus, statements were considered either congruent or incongruent with participants' expectations. The type of source and participants' connection with the targets were manipulated. Results revealed better source memory for incongruent sources than congruent sources only when participants' connection with the targets was strong: i.e., best friend). Similarly, results showed better source memory for incongruent sources than congruent sources only for first-order sources: i.e., actual individuals), but not for second-order sources: i.e., personnel files). Subsequent indirect tests of source memory assessed participants' likelihood to believe trivia statements provided by the same sources that had provided statements about the two targets. Results showed lower veridicality ratings for trivia statements provided by incongruent sources than for those provided by congruent sources. Findings suggest that source memory in social contexts has similar underlying principles as person memory. That is, expectancy congruence affects the encoding of source identity. The role of coalitional vigilance and epistemic vigilance in source encoding and subsequent interactions with sources are discussed.


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