Dr. Nicholas Watier

I am an experimental psychologist largely interested statistics and perception.  My teaching interests centre around the theme of the conjectural nature of knowledge. My current research interests focus on the visual information that contributes to threat appraisals. For a brief biography in stanzaic form,  click on the About Me link on the sidebar.

Academic Qualifications

Ph.D – Psychology – University of Ottawa (2012)
BA(Hons) – Psychology – Laurentian University (2006)


  • 82:250 – Fundamentals of Psychological Research I
  • 82:251 – Fundamentals of Psychological Research II
  • 82:350 – Advanced Statistics and Research Methods in Psychology
  • 82:468 – Perception
  • 82:484 – History of Psychological Ideas

More information about each course, including syllabi and evaluations, is under the teaching link on the sidebar.

Areas of Research Interest

Threat Perception, Image Statistics, Visual Psychophysics, Face Perception, Cognition

As of late, I have been interested in identifying the basic visual information that underlies inferences of threat. For example, when judging whether or not a stranger, object, or environment is dangerous , we presumably rely on some form of visual information. The aim of my research is to precisely determine what that information is. As a preliminary step to doing so, I am relying on visual artefacts that unambiguously attempt to communicate the presence of threat, such as angry faces, horror movie posters, metal album covers, and horror video game box art.

My early research was largely situated in the problem space of face identification. I have used experimental (i.e. psychophysical and metamemory paradigms) and computational (i.e. artificial neural networks and ideal observers) approaches to study how faces and associated autobiographical information are encoded, monitored, and retrieved. My research in this area has led to several peer-reviewed publications, government grants, and an award from the Canadian Psychological Association.


Watier, N. (2023). Subtle threat cues in marketing horror and children’s entertainment. Psychology of Popular Media, 12(2), 231–241. 

Watier, N. (2022). Threat Cues in Metal’s Visual Code. Metal Music Studies, 8(2), 205-223.

Boutet, I., Nelson, E.A., Watier, N., Cousineau, D., Béland, S., & Collin, C.A. (2021). Different measures of holistic face processing tap into distinct but partially overlapping mechanisms. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 83, 2905-2923.

Goernert, P., Corenblum, B., & Watier, N. (2021). Mood States Affect Retrieval not Encoding in Item-Method Directed Forgetting. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 33(4), 424-438.

 Corenblum, B., Goernert, P., & Watier, N. (2020). Directed Forgetting of Emotionally Valenced Faces. Acta Psychologica, 206, 103077, DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2020.103077

Lemieux, C.L., Collin, C.A., & Watier, N. (2019). Gender differences in metacognitive judgments and performance on a goal-directed wayfinding task. Journal of Cognitive Psychology31(4), 453-456. 

Watier, N., & DeGagne, B. (2019). Spatial Frequency Thresholds for Detecting Latent Facial Signals of Threat. Perception, 48(3), 214–227.

Watier, N. (2018). The Saliency of Angular Shapes in Threatening and Nonthreatening faces. Perception, 47(3), 306-329.

Watier, N., Healy, C., &  Armstrong, H. (2017). Effects of Photo-depicted Pupil Diameter on Judgments of Others’ Attentiveness and on Facial Recognition Memory. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 124(2), 366-378.

Watier, N., & Dubois, M. (2016). The effects of a brief mindfulness exercise on executive attention and recognition memory. Mindfulness, 7(3), 745-753.

Watier, N.N, Lamontagne, C., & Chartier, S. (2014). Descriptive Statistics. In J.I Barragues, Morais, & J. Guisasola (Eds.), Probability and Statistics: Didactic Introduction. Enfield, NH: Science Publishers.

Collin, C.A., Rainville, S., Watier, N.N., & Boutet, I. (2014). Configural and Featural Discriminations Use the Same Spatial Frequencies: A Model Observer vs. Human Observer Analysis. Perception, 43(6), 509-526.

Morissette, L., Chartier, S., Vandermeulen, R., & Watier, N. (2012). Depth of treatment sensitive noise resistant dynamic artificial neural network model of recall in people with prosopagnosia. Neural Networks, 32, 46-56.

Watier, N., & Collin, C. (2012). The effects of distinctiveness on memory and metamemory for face-name associations. Memory, 20(1), 73-88.

Watier, N.N., & Collin, C.A. (2011). Metamemory for faces, names, and common nouns. Acta Psychologica, 138(1), 143-154. 

Watier, N.N., Lamontagne, C., & Chartier, S. (2011). What does the mean mean? Journal of Statistics Education, 19(2). 

Watier, N.N., Collin, C.A., & Boutet, I. (2010). Spatial-frequency thresholds for configural and featural discriminations in upright and inverted faces. Perception, 39, 502-513. 

Watier, N.N., & Collin, C.A. (2009). Effects of familiarity on spatial frequency thresholds for face matching. Perception, 38, 1497-1507.