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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, mediation, and research methods.

  • 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 program is organized around two main areas (1) nonverbal behavior in the contexts of object concealment, use of force decisions in police-citizen interactions, deception detection, and bias and (2) communication in veterinary medicine and the human-animal bond.


Her research on nonverbal behavior has implications for Fourth Amendment, specifically movement patterns that may be associated with weapon concealment.  Her work also focuses on how personal characteristics such as race and gender inform perceptions of aggression and use of force decisions in police-citizen interactions. Dr. Sweet’s research also focuses on cognitive-based interviewing strategies for enhancing the production of diagnostic nonverbal for discriminating fabricated and credible accounts of past actions. Dr. Sweet's research in veterinary medicine has implications for communication training and how communication can improve clinical outcomes.


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, Psychology, Crime, & Law, and Health Communication.


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 is the Director of the Human Behavior and Perception Lab at the University of Idaho.

  • Nonverbal behavior
  • Object concealment and movement patterns
  • Use of force decisions in police-citizen interactions
  • Deception Detection / interview strategies
  • Communication in veterinary medicine

  • McClure, K.A., Sweet, D.M., & *Atkinson, D.J. (2023). Before and after George Floyd and Breanna Taylor: Citizen perceptions of a ‘reasonable officer’ standard. Online first, Psychology, Law & Crime. doi: 10.1080/1068316X.2023.2279335
  • ^Sweet, D.M., Quigley-McBride, A., Meissner, C.A., & *Ringstad, K. (2023). Perceptions of movement patterns and concealment detection in naïve observers and law enforcement officers: A Lens Model analysis. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 50, 351-373. doi: 10.1177/00938548221140360
  • Sweet, D.M., Gentile, D., *He, L. (2023) Communication apprehension and willingness to communicate in veterinary medical students: Implications for mindfulness and communication training. Health Communication, 38, 41-49. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2021.1930881
  • ^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, 519-540. doi: 10.1177/0093854817753019
  • ^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, 411-421. doi: 10.1037/lhb0000243

*Graduate student or Post-Doctoral student

^Grant supported

  • 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