Tara Well

Associate Professor of Psychology

Tara Well (formerly Barbara Woike), Associate Professor of Psychology, joined the Barnard faculty in 1995. Professor Well has 20 years experience conducting research on motivation and memory. Her current research focus is the effects of mirrors on the stress response, self-objectification, narcissism, and self-compassion. She is writing a book called, “The Clear Mirror: The Healing Power of Self-Reflection” which introduces a mirror meditation technique that reduces stress and increases self-compassion. As a motivational psychologist, she has been using the technique with individuals and in research studies. Her research finds that mirrors can be used to reduce stress and increase self-compassion, and may be useful in emotion regulation.

Professor Well is a motivational psychologist with expertise in the areas of nonverbal communication, meditation, and emotional regulation. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and National Science Foundation (NSF) have funded her research on achievement motivation and autobiographical memory.  She has served as an Associate Editor of The Journal of Research in Personality and as a consulting editor for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.


Selected Publications:

The relationship between implicit and explicit motives, goal pursuit, and autobiographical memory content during a diary study.” (with M. Bender, C.A. Burke, & E.A.A. Dow), Journal of Research in Personality (2012). 

"Learning and memory correlates of implicit motive" (with M. Bender),  Implicit
 Motives, eds. O.C. Schultheiss & J. C. Brunstein, (Cambridge University Press, 2010): 211-244.

“Implicit motivation as a way to understand cognitive processes” (with M. Bender), Social and Personality Psychology Compass (2009): 702-710. 

 “Implicit motivational states influence memory: Evidence for motive by state-dependent learning in personality” (with M. Bender & N. Besner), Journal of Research in Personality 43, (2009) 39-48. 

“The state of the story in personality psychology,” Social and Personality Psychology Compass, Vol. 2 (2008): 434-443.

A functional framework for the influence of implicit and explicit motives on autobiographical memory,” Personality and Social Psychology Review, Vol. 12 (2008): 99-117.

“Content coding of open-ended responses,” Handbook of Research Methods in Personality Psychology, eds. R. Robins, C. Fraley, & R. Krueger (Guilford Press, 2007): 292-307.

“Motives” (with D.P. McAdams), Personality: Contemporary Theory and Research, 3rd edition, eds. Derlega, Winstead, & Jones (Wadsworth, 2005): 156-189.

“The role of motives in the organization of traumatic events in memory,” (with D. Matic), Journal of Personality Vol. 72 (2004): 633–657.

“Implicit and explicit motives influence accessibility to different autobiographical memories,” (with S. Mcleod, and M. Goggin), Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin Vol. 29 (2003): 1046–1055.

“The influence of implicit motives on memory,” (with E. Lavezzary and J. Barsky), Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Vol. 8 (2001): 935–945.


Personality Psychology

Health Psychology

Psychology of Leadership


Office Hours: 

Wednesday 4-5


BA, Cleveland State University

MA, PhD, Michigan State University

Related Web Sites: 

In the News

During Finals Week (Friday, May 5 - Thursday, May 11), more than 1,550 exams are scheduled—some occurring simultaneously.

Prof. Tara Well studies meditation, emotional regulation, and nonverbal communication, and her current research focus—and forthcoming book—addresses the effect of mirrors on stress and self-image.

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