This line of research asks: Just how separable are the cognitive processes that help us make sense of the world and the affective processes that contribute to our preferences?

With Dr. Sara Cordes, I’ve examined how emotion intermingles with cognition in behavioral studies. I’ve found that number is underestimated under the influence of emotion:

Numerical processing (both estimation and discrimination) can be disrupted by threatening content in the stimuli to be quantified.

  • *Hamamouche, K., *Niemi, L., Cordes, S. (submitted). Quantifying a threat: Evidence of a numeric processing bias.

Likewise, mathematical processing can be altered by the threat of a political opponent:

  • Niemi, L., Woodbridge, M., Young, L., Cordes, S. (submitted). Biased mathematical processing of political polling statistics.

In other work, I have investigated links between social-emotional processing and visual processing using the case of symmetry perception.

  • Niemi, L. & Cordes, S. (in preparation). Easy on the eyes: Visual preferences, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and perfectionism.

*Contributed equally; Name changed from Laura Niemi Young (Young, L. N.) to Laura Niemi (Niemi, L.) in 2013.