This article presents the main assumptions and processes of a model for the analysis and prediction of behaviour, mainly on the molar level. Analysis of findings concerning the orienting reflex shows that a cognitive determination of the input's denotative meaning (‘meaning action’) is an indispensable antecedent for the elicitation of the orienting reflex, adaptive and defensive reactions, and CRs. If these responses fail to cope with the stimulus situation, meaning is further elaborated (‘meaning generation’). Interaction between the input's connotative meaning and the cognitive orientation components (beliefs about self, norms, goals and environment) produces a ‘cognitive orientation cluster’, manifested in a ‘behavioural intent’, which turns into behavioural output through the mobilization and adaptation of innate and learned ‘plans’. Supportive empirical findings and general theoretical implications are discussed.