The category confusion paradigm (Taylor, Fiske, Etcoff & Ruderman, 1978) was used to examine the relationship between cognitive load and the extent of social categorization. The original prediction made by Taylor et al. (1978; Experiment 2) and inferences from the cognitive miser model suggest that categorization should increase or be unaffected by cognitive load. In contrast, it is argued that social categorization can be an effortful and resource-consuming process, especially where the representation of multiple stimuli are concerned. This leads to the prediction that social categorization should decrease with load—assuming there is enough load to produce recall errors in the first place. We obtained results consistent with this analysis in paradigms which manipulated load by means of set-size (Study 1) and processing pace (Study 2). Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.