Mariano Yela is considered one of the most representative figures of the panorama of psychology in Spain in the twentieth century because he is one of its promoters in this country, not to mention the long professional career developed.
This prolific psychologist since his childhood has always been distinguished by his academic results, which allowed him to obtain a scholarship to train in various prestigious universities and institutions, he is widely recognized as one of the “institutionalizing fathers” of the experimental psychology. Spain.
Yela was one of the pioneering psychologists in Spain in scientific psychology; to the detriment of a more philosophical psychology which predominated before.
Hard work, tenacity, thoroughness and an optimistic life, were the values that the actions of psychologist and professor Yela transmitted to their contemporary students and colleagues. Here we will review his life trajectory through a biography of Mariano Yela, in summary form.
Brief biography of Mariano Yela (1921-1994)
Mariano Yela Granizo was born on March 2, 1921 in a district of Madrid, in a humble and working-class family whose office was metallurgical craftsmanship.
When Yela is 13 years old, the moment comes when she has her first contact with psychology thanks to tests carried out by all the students of the school in order to find children with high intellectual capacities. This sparked a lot of interest in him, to the point of reading a book by Terman related to this topic.
In 1941, after spending extremely hard years because of the Spanish Civil War, he finished high school with excellent grades which led him to win the extraordinary promotion prize of the Instituto San Isidro.
Degree in Philosophy and Letters: USA and Europe
It is 1945 the year in which Mariano Yela finishes the License of Philosophy and Letters, obtaining again the extraordinary price of the promotion. This it allows him to be awarded a scholarship so that he can continue his academic training in the United States. There he trained under the tutelage of Thomas V. Moore and later Thurstone. In addition, his years allow him to immerse himself in the most avant-garde psychometrics at the hands of Cronbach, Cattell, Gulliksen and many others.
After returning to Europe, he continued his training in other countries such as England and Scotland, where he worked with Burt and Thomson, experimental psychologists, and later works at the Perceptual Psychology Laboratory, winning an international award for his research.
His return to Spain and the consolidation of his research career
Yela returns to Spain with the aim of rebuilding psychology in this country, with José Germain, Jose Luis Pinillos and Miguel Siguán, the three other great psychologists who, with Mariano Yela, form the cast of the “fathers of modern psychology” in Spain. These psychologists and researchers had the complicated mission of integrating scientific psychology into the university. It would mark the start of a new profession
Yela learns during her years of research and training in foreign countries to develop an innovative working style in psychology, characterized by rigor. This rigor consisted of study with accuracy and precision the specific scientific hypotheses linked to various constructions of psychology, specifying verbal formulations as much as possible. Unsurprisingly, in 1952 he won another extraordinary prize for his doctoral thesis based on factor theory of intelligence.
He worked as an assistant professor of cosmology and psychology at the Complutense University of Madrid between 1953 and 1957, before obtaining the chair of general psychology at the age of 57.
As for his private life, Mariano Yela was married and had 5 children; two of them followed in their father’s footsteps while studying the Psychology degree and then developed their professional careers as psychologists and researchers.
His most outstanding works
Mariano Yela’s most notable contributions to psychology, among many others, have been to introduce to his country the foundations and techniques of factor analysis, his well-known notes on psychometrics and statistics, and the creation and adaptation to Spanish of about 200 tests and the theory of intelligence.
He has produced fourteen books on psychology, highlighting some such as “Studies in Intelligence and Language”, “Psychology of Abilities”, “Tests, Education and Freedom”, “The Technique of Factor Analysis” and “Introduction to Test Theory” He has also collaborated on forty other books and has also published approximately two hundred and fifty articles in national and international journals.
His long professional career left its mark in multiple fields of psychology, as well as in various epistemological reflections on methodological and conceptual problems of scientific psychology.. His great philosophical, scientific and literary experience led him to investigate the most notorious problems of psychology and philosophy.
His view of psychology was always reasoned and in no way dichotomized or scholastic. He has always strived to treat his studies with rigor, being impartial with regard to the different currents of psychology and philosophy, which he has demonstrated in his approach to the popular dichotomies of thought and thought. study of human beings (eg personalism-situation, body-mind, cognitivism-behavioralism, genetics-environment, realism-constructivism, basic applied research, etc.).
He took the relevance of each position rigorously and tried to fit them into a common framework, based on experimental psychology.
His academic career
A fundamental principle in his values as a researcher, passed down to his students for generations, was a theoretical basis which studies in depth the various psychological phenomena and, therefore, employs a rigorous methodology which reaffirms the measure as far as possible. positive verification of complicity. His vision of studying human beings in all possible ways encouraged, to a large extent, the development of applied psychology in Spain.
The testimonies of some of his students explain that his style of explaining theory lessons during lessons was unique and unmatched. He spoke hoarse, with interrupted gestures, and anecdotally, it was said that he was able to take off his jacket without first removing his jacket while giving his master class.
Achievements and contributions to the world of research
The work developed by Yela throughout his life has been extensive and deep, whether professionally as a psychologist, academic as a teacher or institutional as a forerunner in the promotion of science in Spain and, therefore, in universities. .
Some works can be highlighted as precursor of the many organizations and institutions related to psychology in Spain.
- He is one of the members who founded in 1948 the Department of Experimental Psychology of the Higher Council for Scientific Research.
- In 1952 he was one of the organizers of the Spanish Society of Psychology.
- He also belonged to the group of organizing members of the National Institute of Psychology and Psychotechnics.
- In 1952 he helped promote his country’s first training center, the School of Psychology and Psychotechnics at the University of Madrid.
- Together with José Luis Pinillos he participated in the creation of an organization that promoted the inclusion of a new specialty in psychology for the degree in philosophy and letters at the Complutense University of Madrid.
- In 1973, when psychology was integrated into the Faculty of Philosophy and Educational Sciences, Mariano Yela was also present.
- It was the same in 1975, when the first university course in 5 years was created.
- In 1980, he was one of the professionals of the psychology which transformed the psychology section of Somosaguas into the first Spanish faculty of psychology.
- In Somosaguas, he created the Department of Experimental Psychology, of which he became director.
- He also headed the Scientific Behavioral Methodology Department until his retirement in 1987; the same year in which was appointed professor emeritus of the University of Alcala in Madrid.
In the field of work and organizational psychology, he has been the organizer of psychology departments in many companies and in various administrations.. In addition, in 1955, he was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Société d’études et de conseil; now known as Associated Specialist Technicians (ASD). Between the 1950s and 1970s, he carried out many tasks in the field of human resources (RR. HH.), Such as orientation, selection tests and staff training, among others.
In the field of educational psychology and school guidance, he has also carried out work and published articles related to this field.
As for clinical psychology, although having a shorter trajectory, it is recognized as one of the pioneers in Europe of Carl Rogers psychotherapy.
- Muñiz, J, (1994). A different and unitary work. Psychologist’s Papers, 60.
- Rose, JA (1995). Mariano Yela (1921-1994). Latin American Journal of Psychology, 27 (3): p. 527-531.
- Yela, C. (1996). Mariano Yela: my father, my friend, my teacher. Psychotheme, 8: p. 13 – 42.