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Cryptomnesia Fact Sheet (Cognitive Processes)

Human beings have a broad range of memory which enables them to think. The thought process is categorized in various activities. Cognitive processes refer to the act of cognitive activity movement or processing that usually affects the mental contents of an individual (Rodriguez-Lopez, Hill, Hischke, Penã, & Zavala, 2009). Cryptomnesia often represents a type of intriguing mental illusion whereby people usually mistakenly believe that they have produced new and original idea when the reality is that they have simply retrieved a previous, old and outdated idea from memory. Therefore, the paper will focus on defining the term “cryptomnesia” with examples and explaining how inadvertent plagiarism occurs using Johnson’s source monitoring framework. Also, it summarizes and evaluates the findings of three different research articles, which have investigated cryptomnesia. It also describes three factors of false memory as well as the likely effects of inadvertent plagiarism with the evidence and suggests the techniques that can be used by students to minimize the risk of cryptomnesia when writing assignments. Basically, cryptomnesia is memory bias variety, when a person sometimes remembers false memories, thoughts of ideas, generating not intentionally.
Cryptomnesia happens when a memory does not recognize past ideas (Lim, 2016). Under the cognitive process, thinking is mediated and generalized knowledge of objective reality. This process can be entirely called highly informative because thinking promotes the generation of new knowledge creation. On the other hand, various violations of the cognitive process, such as cryptomnesia, underlie a considerable number of the  mental disorders (Lim, 2016). For example, the plagiarizer recreates the idea, which were invented earlier. However, he or she believes that the concept was firstly created. To avoid cryptomnesia, students, authors, and all people who do writing should be held accountable for their work (Strasberg, 2013).
According to Mitchell and Johnson (2006), the source of monitoring framework explains how inadvertent plagiarism occurs due to the mental experiences attributed to source categories like false memory, perception, imagination, dreaming, and beliefs. The authors have pointed out that phenomena of false consciousness that lead to the occurrence of plagiarism arise when images, feelings, and thoughts from a particular source are attributed to another source. It occurs due to the mental event that has features source other than its original and actual source or due to the test situation that may discourage careful monitoring of the source. For example, the attribution may be made in a hurry while at that time the attention is focused on a different aspect of performance task, or at times, the situation may create a bias attribute. According to Mitchell and Johnson (2006), it similarly occurs because images and thoughts may come to mind associated with the source’s particular features that are not realistic and make the source unreliable.
In their article about cryptomnesia, Gingerich and Dodson (2013) analyzed that  cryptomnesia phenomenon happens in the individual’s life as he/she performs different types of activities. They perform determination of a personal work’s originality and inadvertent plagiarism in the evaluation as well as the accuracy of what could have happened to introduce an error in the activities. The article regularly monitors the source of error, which the authors described in the experimentation of laboratory research studies. False statements are also more spread out among ideas originally suggested by persons of the same gender, probably because the perceptual similarity of oneself with a person of the same sex enhances the confusion of the source.
According to the article research of George (2016), the term “cryptomnesia” means generating an idea, song, a solution to the problem, or a word with the belief that it is either at least original or unique in the present context. The aim of the study was to prove, that the coincidence of the idea in time is also necessary. The findings showed that if another person issues an idea just before the person creates the sense, the concept of the other has a high chance of being claimed as someone’s own. Apparently, that happens because the person is too busy preparing for the own turn for accurate tracking of the source of information. The conclusions of the study showed that in reality, the item in the subject is not original, but someone has reproduced it at an earlier time.
The research article by Maina and Jauro (2014) shows how a crisis of cryptomnesia usually occurs. It can happen when a memory of the person appears again without recognition by the individual believing that he creates something new and original. The aim of the study was to find out that cryptomnesia is a kind of memory impairment in which a person can not remember when there was a particular event, in a dream or reality. The conclusions of the findings showed that the source the memorized information is always forgotten.
However, some factors affect the likelihood that inadvertent plagiarism will occur and evidence that suggests the following. First, students doing assignments might be tempted to finish their task by copying someone else’s work (Dow, 2015). The second common factor is that much of what the writer owns, particularly discourse and sociocultural knowledge, exists in an unofficial way. For example, ideas about the order of words in a sentence, just like cultural baggage, can be familiar to consumers of one discourse. They use this knowledge freely, unconsciously.  However, unconscious copying can also concern specific citations, facts, and arguments, which are the forms of subject-specific. When this happens, a person is accused of plagiarism. With this factor, cryptomnesia can lead to plagiarism if the author does not recognize the fact of borrowing from earlier sources. This affects the likelihood that inadvertent plagiarism will occur (Foos & Keeling, 2015). The third factor is the act of copying published information into an individual paper without quoting the source of the original work (Dow, 2015). This happens with the aim of claiming that the information was their own. Also, a written material may be turned in by another student.
Students are at risk of cryptomnesia when writing assignments, especially when they are of young age. It is connected with a fact that young people, of the age of twelve, for instance, have more unstable psychology which is easier to influence. Students of this age have an ability to absorb every information with which they are facing. There is also a suggestion that the wide usage of social media has a significant impact on it: students read and consume dozens of information, sometimes, even unconsciously, while scrolling the news feed (“Cryptomnesia: It’s All Social Media’s Fault” 2012). Without paying much attention at a certain informative post, the subconscious of a person absorbs this information, which a person may recall in a while without knowing that he/she has already read it. Also, it may happen when there are no clear instructions on an appropriate attribution source and when students are not properly guided through the process of revising and writing their original work (Ferrero, Agnes, Besacier, & Schwab, 2017).
Another phenomenon which may serve as an explanation for cryptomnesia among the students of twelve may be connected with false memory. This notion implies the process of remembering something when in fact a person has not faced with the information. In fact, people  “tend to retrieve the most accessible information, even if false” (LaBier, 2016). This is also the result of circulation of the vast amount of information. The brain of a young person may become confused, because it is difficult to differentiate what was real and what was the result of brain activity which made some logical conclusions from different informational sources.
The described cases of plagiarism and explanations of the ways of avoiding it by students during their course work research projects may assist in preparing a plagiarism-free work (Shiga, 2016). In most cases, an individual plagiarizes some information if he or she does not remember how it came into the mind and believed that the data is new; however, in reality, it is not original because someone else has produced it previously. All students are supposed to learn how to prepare and do original work. This will enhance their responsibility and will help them avoid plagiarism. However, the techniques to minimize the menace such as accountability and monitoring should similarly apply.
Baugh, A. B. (2013). I truly thought I’d come up with that: The effects of aging on unconscious plagiarism.
Cryptomnesia: It’s All Social Media’s Fault. (2012). Defriendingtechnology.wordpress.com. Retrieved 28 April 2017, from https://defriendingtechnology.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/cryptomnesia-its-all-social-medias-fault-3/.
Dow, G. T. (January 01, 2015). Do cheaters never prosper? The impact of examples, expertise, and cognitive load on cryptomnesia and inadvertent self-plagiarism of creative tasks. Creativity Research Journal, 27, 1, 47-57.
Ferrero, J., Agnes, F., Besacier, L., & Schwab, D. (2017). Compiling at Semeval-2017 Task 1: Cross-language plagiarism detection methods for semantic textual similarity. Arxiv Preprint Arxiv: 1704.01346.
Foley, M. A., Fried, A. R., Cowan, E., & Bays, R. B. (2014). Collaborative encoding and memory accuracy: Examining the effects of interactive components of co-construction processes. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 40(1), 25.
Foos, A., Keeling, K., & Keeling, D. (January 01, 2015). Source misattribution for the sake of attitude change: A conceptualization of the role of social identity in inducing dissociative processing.
George, D. J. (2016). Finding their ground: Nigerian Nursing students’ perceptions of plagiarism (Doctoral dissertation).
Gingerich, A. C., & Dodson, C. S. (2013). Sad mood reduces inadvertent plagiarism: Effects of affective state on source monitoring in cryptomnesia. Motivation and Emotion, 37(2), 355-371.
Hollins, T. J., Lange, N., Berry, C. J., & Dennis, I. (2016). Giving and stealing ideas in memory: Source errors in recall are influenced by both early-selection and late-correction retrieval processes.
LaBier, D. (2016). New Research Shows Why People Believe False Information.
Retrieved 28 April 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-new-resilience/201612/new-research-shows-why-people-believe-false-information.
Lim, B. H. P. (2016). A PTSD analogue study: Investigating the roles of memory and metamemory in trauma-related outcomes (Doctoral Dissertation, Northern Illinois University).
Maina, A., Maina, M., & Jauro, S. (2014). Plagiarism: A perspective from a case of a Northern Nigerian University. International Journal of Information Research and Review, 1(12), 225-230.
Rodriguez-Lopez, O., Hill, Z., Hischke, J., Penã, J. A., & Zavala, C. B. (2009). Cryptomnesia. S.L.: Rodriguez Lopez.
Shiga, J. (2016). Copying machines. Unconscious musical plagiarism and the mediatization of listening and memory. Transposition. Musique et Sciences Sociales, (6).
Strasberg, M. (2013). Wait … have I seen this before: The effects of aging and distraction on unconscious plagiarism.

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