Relationships between motive to avoid failure and long-term occupational social class mobility were examined. Individuals low in motive to avoid failure, operationalized as test anxiety, were upwardly mobile in social class level of occupational attainment from 1966 to 1985; individuals
high in motive to avoid failure were not. A cause-effect relationship was inferred; a strong avoidance motive inhibited upward occupational class mobility. The data suggest that individuals with high motive to avoid failure reach a ceiling occupational class level at a relatively early age
whereas individuals with low motive to avoid failure continue longer to achieve further upward mobility. Implications of motive causality are discussed.