Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Eugenics refers to the field of study that aims to improve the human race through genetic means. The word eugenics comes from a Greek word that means “wellborn.” Supporters of eugenics seek to change the human race through negative or positive artificial selection, such as the controlled breeding of people who have certain physical characteristics or mental abilities. Eugenics, based on the science of genetics, studies how genes are structured and passed on through generations, but also involves use of information obtained from other areas of knowledge. Psychology, the study of personality; medicine, as it relates to the genetic factors of certain diseases and conditions; sociology, the study of group interaction; and demography, the statistical study of human populations, are some of the disciplines on which eugenic theories are based. Gregor Mendel (1822–1884) first noted the rule of heredity in plant breeding experiments as reported in 1865. Six years earlier, ...