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Dawn Sweet

Assistant Professor


Student Health Center 202

Mailing Address

Department of Psychology & Communication
University of Idaho MS 3043
Moscow, Idaho 83844-3043

Dawn Sweet’s teaching experience includes nonverbal communication, interpersonal communication, conflict management, introduction to research methods and senior research seminar. 

  • Ph.D., Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • M.A., The College of New Jersey
  • B.A., Kean College of New Jersey

Dr. Sweet’s research focuses on nonverbal communication and behavior in the contexts of threat detection, deception detection, use of force, as well as bias and decision making in officer-citizen interactions. She is interested in the intersection of behavior and the Fourth Amendment, specifically movement patterns that may be associated with weapon concealment. Her research has implications for law enforcement and national security. Dr. Sweet was recently awarded a grant from the Federal Bureau of Investigation / High Value Detainee Interrogation Group to investigate gesture production and deception. Dr. Sweet was the recipient of the Kurt Olsson Early Career Research Fellowship; this research uses motion capture technology to assess movement patterns. She has published in journals such as Law and Human Behavior, Criminal Justice and Behavior, and the Journal of Threat Assessment and Management. Her research has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, Iowa Public Radio’s River to River, BuzzFeed, and Salon. She has also served as expert witness in a trial related to the Fourth Amendment. She has been a principal investigator, co-principal investigator, and consultant on grant-supported projects by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), Department of Homeland Security, National Science Foundation, and the Naval Research Laboratory. She currently consults for various federal and state law enforcement agencies and conducts communication and behavior-based training for them. She is the Director of the Human Behavior and Perception Lab at the University of Idaho. 

  • Threat Detection / Weapon Concealment
  • Motion Capture
  • Deception
  • Use of Force
  • Mindful Communication

Sweet, D.M., McClure, K.A., & Atkinson, D.J. Public Perceptions of Officer Force Escalation Before and After George Floyd: The Effects of Race and Nonverbal Cues to Aggression (under review, Law and Human Behavior)

*Sweet, D.M., Quigley-McBride, A., Meissner, C.A., & Ringstad, K. Perceptions of movement patterns and concealment detection in naïve observers and law enforcement officers: A Lens Model analysis [under review; Criminal Justice and Behavior

Sweet, D.M., Gentile, D., He, L. (2021) Communication apprehension and willingness to communicate: inv veterinary medical students: Implications for mindfulness and communication training. Health Communication, 3 June online ahead of print, 1-9.

Gentile, D., Sweet, D.M., He, L., & Lewis, A. (2019) Caring for others cares for the self: An experimental test of brief downward social comparison, loving-kindness, and interconnectedness contemplations. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1-14.

Plante, C., Sweet, D.M., & Groves, C. A (2018). “A silver lining: Violent media, perceptions of a dangerous world, and campus safety intervention. Journal of Threat Assessment and Management, 5(2), 75-83.

Sweet, D.M., & Burzette, R. (2018). Development of The Nonverbal Cues of Interpersonal Violence Inventory: Law enforcement officers’ perceptions of nonverbal behavior and violence. Criminal Justice & Behavior, 45(4), 519-540.

Sweet, D.M., Meissner, C.A., & Atkinson, D.J. (2017). Assessing law enforcement performance in behavior-based threat detection tasks involving a concealed weapon or device. Law and Human Behavior, 4(15), 411-421.

Aditya, S., Baral, C., Bartholomew, M., Hastings, J., Inclezan, D., Lee, J., Lumpkin, B., Nguyen, H. Scherl, R., Sweet, D.M., Ye, J. (in press) Integrating statistical and logical approaches in recognizing social constructs from textual conversations. Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

  • Kurt Olsson Early Career Research Fellowship Award (2020), Decision Making & Bias:
    A Behavior-Based Approach to Detecting a Concealed Weapon, $11,963.26
  • Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award (2014), Iowa State University, Department of Psychology

FBI/HIG. Project title: Reviving the Myth of Nonverbal Behavior: The Utility of Representational Gestures for Assessing Credibility in Interrogative Contexts. Role: PI. Award: $668,746 [Y1, $211,186 Oct 1, 2018 – Sept 30, 2019; OY1-OY2 $457,560 Oct 1, 2019 – Sept 30 2021]

Motorola Solutions Foundation. Project title: Recognizing Hostile Intent Through Nonverbal Communication in Emotionally-Charged High-Risk/High-Consequence Situations. Role: PI, Award: $11,000. [Oct 1, 2013 – September 30, 2014]

Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) Project title: Integrating Machine Learning and Knowledge Representation for Discovery of Social Goals of Groups and Group Members from Their Language Usage. Role: key personnel, PI: Chitta Baral, Arizona State University, Award: $1,420,173 [ISU Sub-award amount: $20,000]

Naval Research Laboratory Project title: Developing a Body Action Coding System for Machine Learning Role: PI, Award: $100,000 [completed May 2010]


Psychology & Communication

Physical Address:
206 Student Health Center

Mailing Address:
Psychology & Communication
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3043
Moscow, ID 83844-3043

Phone: 208-885-6324

Fax: 208-885-7710


Web: Psychology and Communication