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Cognitive Biases

7 Examples of Crab Mentality

Crab mentality is the worldview that you'd rather fail than see others succeed. This is an analogy to the behavior of crabs caught in a bucket.
A single crab can easily escape. However, with a number of crabs in the same bucket they tend to grab each other as they try to climb the side such that none escape. The following are illustrative examples of crab mentality.

Abilene Paradox

Abilene paradox is the tendency for group decisions to reflect compromises such that each individual member of the group views the decision as irrational despite everyone in the group accepting the decision.

Tall Poppy Syndrome

Tall poppy syndrome is when a society attacks wealthy, successful, talented and influential individuals or groups. This motivated by the view that things such as influence, status and wealth are a zero-sum game such that one person's success diminishes everyone else's chances.


Lose-lose strategies whereby you chose a path that causes everyone to lose. For example, a trade war is typically lose-lose as all nations benefit from gains from trade.


Whataboutism is the claim that a wrong is mitigated by another wrong. For example, claiming that a nation is justified in ignoring a dire environmental problem because some other nation is ignoring it.

Allegory of the Long Spoons

Allegory of the long spoons is a traditional analogy that demonstrates the effects of cooperation, civility and goodwill. It states that both heaven and hell have plenty of food and spoons that are far too long. In heaven, everyone feeds each other across the table from them such that all are well feed. In hell, everyone tries to feed themselves and all starve. Remarkably, a similar story appears in a number of cultures including Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Chinese folklore. Each variation has a different explanation of why people must cooperate to eat.

Tragedy of the Commons

Tragedy of the commons is the tendency for shared resources such as sea and air to be destroyed because nobody pays for the damage they cause such that nobody has an individual incentive to save them.


Schadenfreude is an emotion that can be described as joy at the misery of others. This is a potential motivation to explain the choice of lose-lose strategies that harm all.
Overview: Crab Mentality
The worldview that you'd rather fail than see others succeed.
Related Concepts

Cognitive Biases

This is the complete list of articles we have written about cognitive biases.
Ambiguity Effect
Backfire Effect
Base Rate
Circular Reasoning
Cognitive Bias
Cognitive Dissonance
Complexity Bias
Crab Mentality
Creeping Normality
Curse Of Knowledge
Decoy Effect
Exposure Effect
False Analogy
False Hope
Fear Of Youth
Gambler's Fallacy
Golden Hammer
Halo Effect
Hindsight Bias
Negativity Bias
Optimism Bias
Peak-End Rule
Positive Bias
Sour Grapes
Survivorship Bias
Us vs Them
Victim Mentality
Wishful Thinking
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Cognitive Biases

A list of common cognitive biases explained.


A list of approaches for establishing facts.


The definition of hubris with examples.


The definition of schadenfreude with examples.

Human Condition

The definition of the human condition with examples.

Political Polarization

The definition of political polarization with a list of its basic characteristics.

Golden Hammer

The definition of golden hammer with examples.


The definition of subjectivity with examples.


The definition of ethnocentrism with examples.

Emotional Intelligence

A complete overview of emotional intelligence.


The definition of empathy with examples.

Empathy vs Sympathy

The difference between empathy and sympathy explained.


A list of common types of emotion.

List Of Emotions

A list of common emotions.

Mental State

The definition of mental state with examples.

Words For Emotion

A list of words for emotion.

Emotion Opposite

A list of words that describe the opposite of emotion.
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