The Alforto framework
in a nutshell

(Ook beschikbaar in het Nederlands.)



We explain behavior in many different ways, without agreeing on the requirements that the explanation must meet. As a result, many theories are no more than a shot in the dark. By setting up an argument with a start and end point, the Alforto framework unfolds a mindset that is anchored and testable. It is a step forward in the grounded explanation of human behavior.

Brain to move and predict

We've been given a brain to move somewhere. What we are moving towards is what we call our goal. Sometimes we want to pick apples from a tree, sometimes we hide behind a tree. We predict how we can achieve the goal and convert this into actions. The goal is therefore the starting point of our thinking. Without a choice of a goal, our brains are of no use. A body can carry out work instructions just fine, as plants do, but needs the brain to choose a direction.

The starting point is the goal in a situation.

Every situation is slightly different, but many situations are essentially repeating themselves. In similar situations we therefore behave in the same way. We pursue the same goal in the same way and predict that standard actions will lead to success.

Behavior is choosing priority.

If the situation changes radically, our goal usually also changes. We have dinner in Paris and terrorists enter our restaurant firing their wapons. Our goal changes from good food to survival. This example also shows that we do not pursue one goal, but several goals at the same time. The situation determines which goal takes precedence at a given moment.

What actions we perform, we deduce from the highest priority goal. We are taking steps towards the main goal. In the example, staying alive is more important than good food.

Default goals: Personal ambitions

Body Collaboration Status Identity Knowledge

Because we live in groups, every person has been given built-in goals: to have a healthy body (Body), to cooperate with each other, especially in the face of adversity and danger (Cooperation), to play a valued role in the group (Status), to be important in the future ( (Identity) and to make well-founded decisions (Knowledge). These personal ambitions guide our behaviour.

Emotions arise when the prediction about achieving the most important ambitions deviates from reality. Everyone chooses their own ranking in these goals and therefore has emotions at different times in different situations.

Default goals: group motives

Existence Cohesion Prosperity Resilience Wisdom Stay active and fit Stay healthy Beget children Share proceeds Understand tasks and roles Keep agreements help each other Exceed expectation Chase success Celebrate successes Cherish performance Show confidence Show wisdom Enjoy learning.

We project the ambitions onto our group members. We expect others to conform to group motives: we persevere (Existence), we pull together (Cohesion), we strive for greater success (Prosperity), we persevere in the face of adversity (Resilience), and we choose the best for the whole group in the long term (Wisdom).

Each group chooses its own ranking in the group motives, depending on the situation. The group motives take on a different form in every culture, but the structure is the same all over the world.

Contradictory motifs, indicated by the green lines, elicit emotions.

Collision of personal ambitions and group motives

Personal ambitions change at each age, while group motives usually remain the same. This causes priorities to clash and creates friction between the people in the group. This collision can be easily regulated by understanding the underlying motives.

Actions take us to the goal

We achieve our goals by choosing good routes and connecting the required actions. If a goal is missing, routes do not exist and we do not take action.

We choose our routes in three ways: in a fixed order (step-by-step plan), reacting to incidents (event-driven) and by finding alternative roads (route-seeking). Each successive control mechanism gives more freedom to find and execute routes to the target, but is also more difficult to execute.

Our actions have consequences for ourselves and for others. Others respond to our actions and we respond to their actions. This constantly creates new situations, so that other goals take precedence and other actions follow.

Goal determines the point of view

In a situation we look at reality from our chosen objective. As a result, the goal we pay attention to determines which decisive characteristics of objects and persons we consider important. A forest ranger looks at the trees in the forest differently than a furniture maker.

We simplify our perceptions by recognizing shapes, events (time, place plus numbers) and relationships.

We prefer the order in which we look at shapes, events and connections. Perceiving starts for one with shapes, for another with events and for a third with connections. Everyone is right from their own point of view, but thinks that the other does not see it well. This is a source of many problems.


The world is multifaceted and complicated. To be able to think clearly and easily, we simplify the world by distinguishing independent knowledge factors. We distinguish five knowledge factors: person, goal, influencing, observation and communication. A person chooses a goal and takes actions to achieve this goal and observes to make adjustments. With symbols and words, a person communicates with other people.

Each knowledge factor is like a balloon that can be blown up and consists of many smaller, trapped balloons. Observing, for example, consists of the sub-balloons of shapes, events and relationships.

We learn to inflate the balloons step by step and fill them with partial balloons. This requires education. We don't fill all the knowledge balloons on our own.

Person De + Step-by-step-plan Event- driven Route-seeking Influencing Observation Goal Wisdom Resilience Existance Motives Ambitions B C ... Know-ledge Identity Colla- boration Status Body Time Events Location Shape Relationship Wisdom Resi-lience Pros-perity Cohe-sion Me Ge We Materialsituation Number

Requirements for behavioral theories

Traditional science requirements too limited

Science places two demands on the validity of statements: 1) making a correct prediction derived from a theory and 2) unambiguously observing the prediction.

These standard requirements are too limited for a thorough explanation of behaviour. In science we have to make a fundamental difference between perception (physics, …) and actions (behaviour). Describing a person's goal in a situation is also required to correctly explain behavior. Only the person decides whether to stand in front of or behind a tree. Actions of persons demand much more explanation than mere observation, because actions within limits are free choices.

Explanation behavior

At a minimum, explaining behavior requires describing the situation, the chosen goals, the actions and the associated observations. Behavior cannot be explained by generalities, regardless of the situation. The question “Do you get your energy from interacting with the world around you?” gets a different explaination on Saturday night with your friends than on Monday morning with your boss.

Validity Rules

Actions and observations both have different validity rules. The main rule for actions is that they connect (↔). In observations, we classify by summarizing common features (↕).

The requirements for the explanation of behavior are fully elaborated in the Alforto framework, including the Laws of Observation, Laws of Influence and Requirements for Behavioral Theories.

Progressive knowledge building

Until now, no accumulation of understanding has taken place in the knowledge domain of Behavior (psychology, sociology, ...) due to the lack of correct validity requirements.

By observing the correct scientific requirements, a solid structure is created that explains behavior in a far-reaching way. A hundred percent explanation is not possible, because people can change their behavior at any time.

Practical application

Different view

The Alforto framework approaches behavior from the point of view of a person in a situation. This allows us to look at human behavior in a well-founded and better way.

Social developments are much easier to explain with the Alforto framework. Numerous examples are discussed in the book «The Alforto framework». For example, People with autism spectrum disorders.


By factoring behavior into person, goal, influencing, observation and communication, we gain more insight into the learning process.

The validity requirements provide a lot of support for testing the correctness of textbooks and dissertations in the Behavior knowledge domain.

Mentoring and coaching

The Alforto framework provides a basis for effectively helping individuals, teams and organizations move forward and achieve their goals.

By distinguishing between actions and observations, the foundation is laid for looking at change processes in new ways. See also Why is change management pseudoscience?

We use tailor-made questionnaires to gain insight into people's way of thinking. See Profiles with some common examples.

With the thinking pattern Productive thinking we give people a solid framework to think correctly.


By expanding the rules that the explanation of behavior must comply with, we can better seperate the chaff from the wheat. Collecting, analyzing and interpreting data without substantiating the knowledge factors adds nothing to our scientific knowledge.


We invite critics to contribute to the advancement of science by providing substantiated criticism and winning the Dare to Think Prize.

Arjen Meijer
October 27, 2022

Last modification July 25, 2023

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