ABSTRACT There are two traditional explanations for success-avoiding behavior the motive hypothesis and the cognition hypothesis A third hypothesis, compromise, is proposed m this article and explains success avoidance as a compromise between achievement and other goals A review shows that data explained by the motive hypothesis can be explained more parsimoniously by the compromise hypothesis, that some data are weakly inconsistent with the motive hypothesis, and that there is supportive evidence for the cognition and compromise hypotheses The implications of the compromise hypothesis for motivation research in general are discussed in terms of a control theory framework Compromises may be a common feature of intentional behavior