Cognitive Misers, as the term suggests, refers to individuals who are cognitively lazy. In other words, they try to conserve their cognitive resources by avoiding complex mental processes and going for simpler ones instead. This phenomenon is a crucial concept in psychology and has been studied extensively.

The Theory of Cognitive Misers

The theory of Cognitive Misers was developed by Susan Fiske and Shelley Taylor in 1984. According to this theory, people have a limited amount of cognitive resources that they can use to process information. Therefore, they try to avoid using these resources whenever possible and opt for simpler mental processes.

This behavior is observed when individuals are presented with complex information that requires a lot of cognitive effort to process. In such situations, people tend to rely on heuristics or mental shortcuts that require less cognitive effort. These shortcuts may be stereotypes, biases, or assumptions about the world.

Examples of Cognitive Misers

Cognitive Misers can be observed in various everyday situations. For instance, when we meet someone new, we tend to form an impression about them based on their appearance or behavior rather than taking the time to get to know them. This is because forming an impression takes less cognitive effort than getting to know someone in detail.

Similarly, when we make decisions, we often rely on our past experiences or gut feelings rather than analyzing all available information. This is because analyzing all information requires more cognitive effort.

The Impact of Cognitive Misers

Cognitive Misers can have both positive and negative impacts on our lives. On the one hand, relying on mental shortcuts can save us time and energy when making decisions or processing information quickly.

However, it can also lead us astray by causing us to make incorrect assumptions or judgments based on incomplete information. For instance, relying on stereotypes can lead us to discriminate against certain groups of people without even realizing it.


The concept of Cognitive Misers is an essential one in psychology, as it helps us understand how people process information and make decisions. By being aware of our tendency to conserve cognitive resources, we can learn to make more informed decisions and avoid biases or stereotypes that may lead us astray. So, the next time you find yourself relying on mental shortcuts, take a moment to consider whether you are being a Cognitive Miser!