Crab mentality or crabs in a 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". The metaphor refers to a pattern of behaviour noted in crabs when they are trapped in a bucket. While any one crab could easily escape, its efforts will be undermined by others, ensuring the group's collective demise.
The analogy in human behaviour 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.
Impact on performance
The impact of crab mentality on performance was quantified by a New Zealand study in 2015 which demonstrated up to an 18 per cent average exam result improvement for students when their grades were reported in a way that prevented others from knowing their position in published rankings.
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