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Psicothema was founded in Asturias (northern Spain) in 1989, and is published jointly by the Psychology Faculty of the University of Oviedo and the Psychological Association of the Principality of Asturias (Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos del Principado de Asturias).
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Seven Decades of Factor Analysis: From Yela to the Present Day

Pere J. Ferrando

Universitat Rovira i Virgili

Background: I review some key developments in the exploratory factor analysis (EFA) model from the 1940s to the present day with Yela as the reference point. Method: The study is organized in three parts. The first part (until 1950) discusses EFA during Yela’s formative years. The second part reviews the evolution of the model from Yela’s return to Spain to the end of the century: the development of factor analysis (FA) as a statistical method, and the advent, and unstoppable rise, of the confirmatory model. An interlude follows in which some key problems are discussed. The third part discusses the resurgence of the model in the 21st century and the advances made in this period. I end by discussing the current situation in the field. Discussion: I discuss the validity of Yela’s views regarding FA, and criticise how technical and instrumental developments have favoured, in most cases, mindless applications of the technique in which the substantive and design aspects of the research are grossly neglected. Conclusions: Although new technical developments are still needed, EFA is finally at par with any structural model. So, its time again to give importance to what is really important: the design and the substantive aspects.

Siete Décadas de Análisis Factorial: Desde Yela Hasta Hoy. Antecedentes: se revisan algunos desarrollos clave en el modelo de análisis factorial exploratorio (AFE) desde los años 40 del hasta hoy, tomando a la figura de Yela como punto de referencia. Método: el estudio se organiza en tres partes. La primera (hasta 1950) revisa la situación del AFE durante los años de formación de Yela. La segunda revisa la evolución del modelo desde la vuelta de Yela a España hasta el final de siglo: el desarrollo del AF como método estadístico y el inicio e imparable ascensión del modelo confirmatorio (AFC). A esto sigue un entreacto en el que se discuten algunos puntos clave. La tercera parte revisa el resurgir y los avances del AFE en el siglo 21. Se termina discutiendo la situación actual. Discusión: se defiende la validez del punto de vista de Yela y se critica que los desarrollos técnicos hayan favorecido aplicaciones poco fundamentadas en las que los aspectos sustantivos y de diseño se encuentran inaceptablemente descuidados. Conclusiones: aunque siguen siendo necesarias mejoras de tipo técnico, el AFE está ya a la par con cualquier modelo estructural. Es hora de volver a dar importancia a lo que realmente la tiene: el diseño y los aspectos sustantivos.

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