Associate Professor Yow Wei Quin

Prof Yow is the Associate Head of the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and leads the SUTD Language and Social Cognition Lab where they look at how language impacts on our cognitive functioning and understanding of the social world. Her research focuses on exploring and studying patterns of dual language use, how language environment may influence how children perceive communicative cues and how technology influences the way we communicate, and how it can be harnessed in ways that can improve or slow down the decline of cognition and social cognition.

Her team is currently working the following projects

A) Bilingualism studies:

i) Social cognition, selective trust, and bilingualism (lifespan)

In this series of studies, we seek to examine how language experience may affect preschoolers’ and elderly’s sensitivity to communicative cues, referential intention, perspective-taking, and selective trust.

ii) Bilingualism, technology, and aging

The availability and use of technology in reading, literacy and education have increased in recent years (such as e-books, reading apps, tablets, smart devices, robots, etc.). We are interested in understanding how technology can affect development as well as how to harness it to best affect development through research and design.

iii) Bilingual effects on executive control in young adults and elderly

These studies investigate the effect of bilingualism on the subdomains of executive control processes including inhibition, shifting and updating. 

iv) Neuro-cognition

This project works with engineering colleagues to research, design, and implement a scalable, elderly-friendly, dual-language based cognitive intervention program, and make it available to our community day care partner in the form of a multi-modal touch screen technology.

B) Collaborative studies:

i) Aging and design 

In collaboration with architect colleagues, we have investigated how the design of social infrastructure (e.g., the availability of space for physical exercise, the distance between house and medical facilities) is related to the pattern of elderly’s activities and their psychological well-being (e.g. depression, satisfaction). The continual research efforts will focus on using a cross-disciplinary and multi-method approach that combines traditional census, survey-based research and ethnography with data gathered through mobile phone applications and social media platforms to (re)define segments of Housing Development Board town residents. This data will then be brought together and analyzed in a ‘big data’ analytical framework.

ii) Aging and neural networks

In collaboration with neuroscientists, we examine age-related psychological and neurological changes in socila cognition. Specifically, we seek to examine age-related changes in multiple cognitive processes involved in social cognition, investigate brain structural and functional changes associated with age-related decline in social cognition, and identify individual variables such as general cognitive ability and life course factors including bilingualism and personal social networks that influence social neurocognitive development in aging. 

Areas of expertise prepared to comment on (keywords): Psychology,social cognition, bilingualism, education, technology and aging.

List of media coverage

Selected publications

*Chan, C., *Yow, W.Q., Oei, A. (2020). Active bilingualism in aging: Balanced bilingualism usage and less frequent language switching relates to better conflict monitoring and goal maintenance ability. Journal of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences, 75(9) e231, *Both authors contribute equally.

Yow, W.Q., & Priyashri, S. (2019). Computerized electronic features direct children’s attention to print in single and dual language e-books. AERA Open, 5(3), 1-15. doi:

Manivannan, A., Yow, W.Q., Bouffanais, R., & Barrat A. (2018). Are the different layers of a social network conveying the same information? EPJ Data Science. doi

Li, X. & Yow, W.Q. (2018). Willingness to revise own testimony: 3- and 4-year-olds’ selective trust in unexpected testimony from accurate and inaccurate informants. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 173, 1-15. doi:

Yow, W.Q., & Li, X. (2018). The influence of language behavior in social preferences and selective trust of monolingual and bilingual children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 166, 635-651. doi:

Yow, W.Q., Tan, S.H., & Flynn, S. (2017). Code-switching and its impact on linguistic competency in bilingual preschoolers. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 1-16. doi:10.1017/S1366728917000335

 Yow, W.Q., Li, X., Lam, S., Gliga, T., Chong, Y.S., Kwek, K., & Broekman, B.F.P. (2017). A bilingual advantage in 54-month-olds’ use of referential cues in fast mapping. Developmental Science, 20(1): n/a, e12482. doi:10.1111/desc.12482

Yow, W.Q., & Markman, E.M. (2016). Children increase their sensitivity to a speaker’s nonlinguistic cues following a communicative breakdown. Child Development, 87(2), 385-394.

Yow, W. Q. (2015). Monolingual and bilingual preschoolers’ use of gestures to interpret ambiguous pronouns. Journal of Child Language, 42, 1394-1407. 

Hung, W., Patrycia, F., & Yow, W.Q. (2015).  Bilingual children weigh speaker’s referential cues and word-learning heuristics differently in different language contexts when interpreting a speaker’s referential intent. Frontiers in Psychology, 6:796.

Yow, W.Q., & Markman, E.M. (2015).  A bilingual advantage in how children integrate multiple cues to understand a speaker’s referential intent.  Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 18(3), 391-399.

 Yow, W.Q., & Li, X. (2015). Balanced bilingualism and early age of second language acquisition as the underlying mechanisms of a bilingual executive control advantage: Why variations in bilingual experiences matter. Frontiers in Psychology, 6:164.

 Chong, K. H., Yow, W. Q., Loo, D., & Patrycia, F. (2015).  Senior activity center or coffeeshop? Perception of matured estate and socio-psychological wellbeing of the elderly.  Journal of Housing For The Elderly, 29 (3), 259-297.

Yow, W. Q., Li, X., Hung, W., Goldring, M., Cheng, L., Gu, Y. (2014).  Predicting Social Networks and Psychological Outcomes from Mobile Phone Sensing. IEEE ICC.

Yow, W.Q. (2012).  Experience of communication breakdown increases preschoolers’ sensitivity to communicative cues.  International Journal of Psychology47 (Special issue), 272-272.

Yow, W.Q., & Markman, E.M. (2011).  Young bilingual children’s heightened sensitivity to referential cues. Journal of Cognition & Development12(1), 12-31.

Yow, W.Q., & Markman, E.M. (2011). Bilingualism and children's use of paralinguistic cues to interpret emotion in speech. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 14(4), 562-569.


Associate Head
Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Academic disciplines: