Early researchers of political behavior coined the term cross-pressures to describe conflicting influences on individuals' political preferences, and suggested that cross-pressured citizens were less likely to participate in politics. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the relationship between cross-pressures and participation, but a lack of consensus about both the measurement of cross-pressures and their mechanisms has led to a wide array of conflicting results. We aim to bring clarity to this debate by comparing these various measures and mechanisms side-by-side, in order to better understand which pathways show the greatest potential in linking cross-pressures with participation. We consider the effect of both social cross-pressures, which stem from interactions with others in one’s social network, and issue cross-pressures, which arise from holding policy preferences across issues that do not fall along traditional ideological lines. We employ data from the 2000 US presidential election to ascertain how best to quantify each type of cross-pressures, then evaluate which proposed mechanisms show the most promise for explaining the connection between cross-pressures and participation. We find that, when modeled appropriately, both issue and social cross-pressures are associated with decreased participation. Our evidence most strongly supports the notion that both types of cross-pressures make individuals more indifferent between candidates and thus less motivated to participate, but also suggests that the potential social costs involved in more public forms of participation play a role in individuals’ calculations as well.