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American National Biography Online Krech, David (27 Mar. 1909-14 July 1977), professor of psychology, was born Yitzhok-Eizik Krechevsky in a small village in Russia, the son of Joseph Krechevsky, a salesman, and Sarah Rabinowitz. At the age of four Krech accompanied his family to the United States, where they settled in New London, Connecticut. Krech took to schooling, was a good student, and, according to his autobiography, soon became the "most educated American" in his family. In addition to the regular fare, he spent an hour a day in Hebrew School, where he learned some Hebrew and learned to read and write in Yiddish. His love of the Hebrew language and its literature endured throughout his life and remained long after he had rejected all formal religion. After graduating from high school, Krech, going by the more anglicized Isadore Krechevsky, went to the Washington Square College of New York University (NYU), where, in the course of prelaw studies, he discovered psychology and realized for the first time, as he put it, that "man himself could be examined objectively and scientifically. This revolutionary (for me) idea made it a science more noble than all the rest." Following graduation in 1930, Krech continued his studies at NYU, during which time he read Karl Lashley's Brain Mechanisms and Intelligence (1929), one of the first major attempts to understand how the rat's brain controls its ability to solve problems. Krech was struck particularly by Lashley's observation that the rats in some tasks appeared to attempt solutions to discrimination problems that might involve position responses, alternation, and so forth, before finally coming to the correct solution. Krech devised a way of observing these attempted solutions and, after gaining a master's degree, transferred to the University of California at Berkeley for his doctoral studies. At Berkeley Krech worked with Edward C. Tolman, a major contributor to the study of animal cognition. Tolman reportedly described Krech's research as "hypotheses in rats," and the name stuck. Krech gained rapid notoriety for his research because it supplied the first evidence that animals associate only those environmental cues to which they are attending at the time. It was a radical notion and a sharp departure from the dominant antimentalistic behaviorism of the day. Krech's discoveries resulted in an opportunity, after he received a Ph.D. in 1933, to work with Lashley in investigating the neural bases of hypotheses behavior at the University of Chicago. While in Chicago, Krech became active in politics. In this context, he participated in a symbolic strike on Memorial Day 1937 at the Republic Steel Corporation in Gary, Indiana, where, in Krech's words, the strikers "were met by point blank fire from a force of Chicago police." Krech and other witnesses signed a statement condemning the action, an event that led to his departure from the University of Chicago. Krech then spent a year on a fellowship at Swarthmore College followed by a year as a half-time assistant professor at the University of Colorado. When the University of Colorado learned of his activities in Chicago, the appointment was downgraded to a half-time instructorship. These circumstances ultimately led to his departure from the University of Colorado in June 1939. Krech spent the next two years as managing editor of a social action newsletter in New York. From 1941 until 1945, both as a sergeant in the army and as a civilian, Krech worked for the U.S. government and, in the course, became a social psychologist concerned with the measurement of attitudes and, ultimately, the evaluation of candidates for spies going into enemy-occupied territory. In 1943 Krech married Hilda Gruenberg, with whom he had one child. Following the war and a year at Swarthmore College (during which he began to publish under the name David Krech), in 1947 he returned to Berkeley as an associate professor of psychology and spent the rest of his academic career there. Soon after joining the Berkeley faculty, Krech collaborated with social psychologist Richard Crutchfield in writing what was then a revolutionary book in social psychology. Published in 1948, Theory and Problems of Social Psychology gave social psychology for the first time a theoretical base in the psychology of perception and, most notably, in Gestalt psychology. The book was widely adopted as a text and established Krech's eminence in a field of psychology disparate from that in which he had been trained. After a number of years during which Krech was an active participant in social and personality psychology, Krech returned in the early 1950s to biological psychology and collaborated with several individuals, including Mark R. Rosenzweig, then a recent addition to the Berkeley faculty in physiological psychology; Edward L. Bennett, a neurochemist; and Marian C. Diamond, a neuroanatomist. This team and its associated students and fellows, with the active support of the noted chemist Melvin Calvin, set out to investigate how differences in the experience of animals might affect chemical activity of the brain and in turn how these changes in the chemical activity of the brain might affect behavior. Their experiments brought the unexpected finding that both formal training and informal experience lead in rats to changes in the level of activity of the brain enzyme cholinesterase. Measurement of enzymatic activity per unit of tissue weight led to the even more surprising finding that training or enriched environmental experience causes increases in the weight of regions of the cerebral cortex as well as changes in the anatomy of neurons in the cerebral cortex. For his varied contributions, Krech received many honors, including the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association, an honorary doctorate from the University of Oslo, and two Fulbright fellowships. He died at his home in Berkeley. Bibliography Two of Krech's important articles are I. Krechevsky, " 'Hypotheses' in Rats," Psychological Review 39 (1932): 516-32, and David Krech et al., "Enzyme Concentrations in the Brain and Adjustive Behavior-Patterns," Science 120 (10 Dec. 1954): 994-96. His entertaining and informative autobiography is in G. Lindzey, ed., A History of Psychology in Autobiography, vol. 6 (1974), pp. 219-50. A complete bibliography through 1970 is in American Psychologist 26 (1971): 82-86. Donald A. Riley Mark R. Rosenzweig Citation: Donald A. Riley Mark R. Rosenzweig. "Krech, David"; http://www.anb.org/articles/14/14-00827.html; American National Biography Online Feb. 2000. Access Date: Copyright (c) 2000 American Council of Learned Societies. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. From American National Biography, published by Oxford University Press, Inc., copyright 2000 American Council of Learned Societies. Further information is available at http://www.anb.org.