Crab mentality

Crab mentality, also known as crab theory,[1][2][3][4][5] crabs in a bucket (also barrel, basket, or pot) mentality, or the crab-bucket effect,[6] is a way of thinking best described by the phrase "if I can't have it, neither can you".[7] The metaphor is derived from a pattern of behavior noted in crabs when they are trapped in a bucket. While any one crab could easily escape,[8] its efforts will be undermined by others, ensuring the group's collective demise.[9][10]

Live crabs in a bucket

The analogy in human behavior is claimed to be that members of a group will attempt to reduce the self-confidence of any member who achieves success beyond the others, out of envy, resentment, spite, conspiracy, or competitive feelings, to halt their progress.[11][12][13][14]

Effect on performanceEdit

Crab mentality affects performance in an organization as humans behave in similar manner as the crabs particularly within social teams.[15] The impact of crab mentality on performance was quantified by a New Zealand study in 2015 which demonstrated up to an 18% average exam result improvement for students when their grades were reported in a way that prevented others from knowing their position in published rankings.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Deaf Enterprise - Crab Theory". Retrieved 2020-11-04.
  2. ^ Mae Lentz, Ella (2006). "The Crab Theory Revisited". Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  3. ^ Henry, Elizabeth. "LibGuides: FAQ: Crab Theory: Home". Retrieved 2020-11-04.
  4. ^ "Aversion to the invention of new signs in American Sign Language (ASL)". Retrieved 2020-11-04.
  6. ^ Soubhari, Tushar; Kumar, Yathish (October 2014). "The CRAB-Bucket Effect and Its Impact on Job Stres – An Exploratory Study With Reference To Autonomous Colleges" (PDF). International Journal on Recent and Innovation Trends in Computing and Communication. 2 (10): 3022–3027. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016.
  7. ^ L. Douglas Wilder (October 1, 2015). Son of Virginia: A Life in America's Political Arena. Lyons Press. p. 185. ISBN 978-1-4930-1952-6.
  8. ^ Low Robin Boon Peng (2016). Good Intentions Are Not Enough: Why We Fail At Helping Others. World Scientific. p. 104. ISBN 978-981-320-059-3.
  9. ^ Sudipta Sarangi (April 1, 2013). "Capturing Indian 'Crab' Behaviour". The Hindu. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  10. ^ Miller, Carliss D. (January 2015). "A Phenomenological Analysis of the Crabs in the Barrel Syndrome". Academy of Management Proceedings. Academy of Management. 2015: 13710. doi:10.5465/AMBPP.2015.13710abstract.
  11. ^ Manuel B. Dy (March 3, 1994). Values in Philippine Culture and Education. Council for Research in Values and Philosophy. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-56518-041-3.
  12. ^ Herbert A. Leibowitz (December 31, 1994). Parnassus: Twenty Years of Poetry in Review. University of Michigan Press. p. 262. ISBN 978-0-472-06577-6.
  13. ^ Albert Shanker (June 19, 1994). "Where We Stand: The Crab Bucket Syndrome". The New York Times. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  14. ^ David, E. J. R. (2013). Brown Skin, White Minds: Filipino / American Postcolonial Psychology. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. p. 119. ISBN 978-1-62396-209-8.
  15. ^ Dietrich, David M.; Kenworthy, Michael; Cudney, Elizabeth A. (2019). Additive Manufacturing Change Management: Best Practices. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-367-15207-9.
  16. ^ Spacey, Simon (2015). "Crab Mentality, Cyberbullying and "Name and Shame" Rankings". Waikato University, New Zealand. Retrieved April 19, 2015. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)