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cognitive miser


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An interpretation of stereotypes as psychological mechanisms that economize on the time and effort spent on information processing by simplifying social reality, which would otherwise overwhelm our cognitive capacities with its complexity. The concept was introduced by the US journalist Walter Lippmann (1899–1974) in his book Public Opinion in 1922. A more general term for essentially the same phenomenon is cognitive economy. See also dual-process model, principle of least effort.

Subjects: Psychology.


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