Crab Mentality Explained

Crab Mentality – All You Need To Know

In this post, we’ll unpack all you need to know about Crab Mentality, defining exactly what it is, its adaptive role in evolution, how to overcome it and more.

What Is Crab Mentality?

Crab Mentality is a phenomenon used to describe the mindset of individuals in a group who attempt to sabotage the progress of the other better-performing members in the group.

More simply, it is a way of thinking best described by the phrase “If I can’t have it, neither can you.”

The Origin Of Crab Mentality

Crab Mentality is derived from a pattern of behaviour observed in crabs when trapped in a bucket. Any time a crab attempts to escape, the other crabs will immediately pull it back down to their misery and the group’s collective demise.

It’s important to recognise that crabs did not evolve in buckets. They evolved on seashores where clinging to others promoted survival, preventing them from being washed out to sea. Thus, a crab is not consciously trying to hold back its mates. It is not consciously trying to save them either. It is just repeating a behaviour that was naturally selected for.

Its origin may stem from the behaviour of crabs. However, the Crab Mentality analogy is a powerful teaching tool that we can also use in the context of human interactions.

The Evolutionary Perspective

Humans are social beings. Thus, we evolved to seek safety in numbers as a way to protect ourselves from predators. As a result, we developed a brain that rewarded us (via oxytocin) whenever we obtained social support. It alarmed us (via cortisol) whenever our social support was threatened.

For our ancient ancestors, abandonment from a tribe meant isolation and isolation ultimately meant death. Thus, maintaining strength in numbers was key to survival.

How To Overcome Crab Mentality

It’s important to understand that those who attempt to sabotage others are likely unaware that they are doing so. They are likely doing it unconsciously. However, we become who we associate with.

Therefore, the key to overcoming Crab Mentality is to minimise the time and energy you spend on people who are hindering (rather than helping) you from achieving your goals and the quality of life you desire.

Summary (TL;DR)

Crab Mentality describes individuals who sabotage the progress of others. It evolved as an adaption to ensure we maintained safety in numbers.

The key to overcoming it is to minimise the time and energy spent on people who are hindering the progress towards achieving our goals and the quality of life we desire.


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