Crab mentality

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A bucket of crabs

Crab mentality, sometimes referred to as crabs in the bucket (also barrel, basket or pot), is a way of thinking best described by the phrase, "if I can't have it, neither can you."[1] The metaphor refers to a bucket of crabs. Individually, the crabs in the story could easily escape from the bucket, but instead they are described as grabbing at each other in a useless "king of the hill" competition which prevents any from escaping and ensures their collective demise.[2][3][4][5] The analogy in human behavior is claimed to be that members of a group will attempt to negate or diminish the importance of any member who achieves success beyond the others, out of envy, spite, conspiracy, or competitive feelings, to halt their progress.[6][7][8][9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ Sudipta Sarangi (April 1, 2013). "Capturing Indian 'Crab' Behaviour". The Hindu. Retrieved December 1, 2015. 
  3. ^ Massie Santos Ballon (May 14, 2010). "Crab Mentality". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on September 25, 2013. 
  4. ^ Jesus G. Dureza (May 3, 2012). "The Naughty PNoy". Sun.Star. Archived from the original on August 23, 2013. 
  5. ^ Miller, Carliss D. (January 2015). "A Phenomenological Analysis of the Crabs in the Barrel Syndrome". Academy of Management Proceedings. Academy of Management. doi:10.5465/AMBPP.2015.13710abstract. Retrieved 18 July 2016. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ Herbert A. Leibowitz (December 31, 1994). Parnassus: Twenty Years of Poetry in Review. University of Michigan Press. p. 262. ISBN 0-472-06577-7. 
  8. ^ Caroline Sweetman (January 1, 1997). Men and Masculinity. Oxfam. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-85598-377-2. 
  9. ^ Jeannette Marie Mageo (August 31, 1998). Theorizing Self in Samoa: Emotions, Genders, and Sexualities. University of Michigan Press. p. 14. ISBN 0-472-08518-2. 
  10. ^ Albert Shanker (June 19, 1994). "Where We Stand: The Crab Bucket Syndrome". The New York Times. Retrieved December 1, 2015.