Harper Business Books: Setting the Agenda on Work, Leadership, and Growth

Publication Details and Purchasing Information

Selected Format: E-book

Format Details

Book Title and Author Byline

The Power of Fifty Bits

The New Science of Turning Good Intentions into Positive Results

Buy the Book

Product Description and Author Information

About the Book

Going beyond the bestsellers Predictably Irrational and Thinking, Fast and Slow, the first “how to” guide that shows you how to help customers, employees, coworkers, and clients make better choices to get what they truly want.

Of the ten million bits of information our brains process each second, only fifty bits are devoted to conscious thought. Because our brains are wired to be inattentive, we often choose without thinking, acting against our own interests—what we truly want. As the former Chief Scientist of Express Scripts, a Fortune 25 healthcare company dedicated to making the use of prescription medications safer and more affordable, Bob Nease is an expert on applying behavioral sciences to health care. Now, he applies his knowledge to the wider world, providing important practical solutions marketers, human resources professionals, teachers, and even parents can use to improve the behavior of others around them, and get the positive results they want.

Nease offers a set of powerful and effective strategies to change behavior, including:

  • Require Choice—compel people to deliberately choose among options
  • Lock in Good Intentions—allow people to make decisions today about choices they will face in the future
  • Let It Ride—set the default to the desired option and let people opt out if they wish
  • Get in the Flow—go to where peoples’ attention is likely to be naturally
  • Reframe the Choices—set the framework people use to consider options and choices
  • Piggyback It—connect the desired choice or behavior with something they already like or are engaged in
  • Simplify . . . Wisely—make right choices frictionless and easy, make wrong choices more difficult
  • And more.

About the Author

Bob Nease

Bob Nease, PhD, served as the chief scientist of Express Scripts and is the author of more than seventy peer-

reviewed papers. He was also an associate professor of internal medicine at Washington University in St. Louis and an assistant professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. He received the Henry Christian Award for Excellence in Research from the American Federation for Medical Research and the URAC’s Health Care Consumer Empowerment and Protection Award. He and his wife divide their time between Phoenix, Austin, and Italy.


“If you want to understand how the environment you live in can be reshaped so that your intuitions, fears, hopes and dreams can best be managed and aligned with your best intentions, I recommend you read this fun, challenging, and useful book.” —Arthur Caplan, Professor of Bioethics, NYU Langone Medical Center

“In many ways, [this book] is yet another one of Bob’s cleverly engineered systems, expertly designed to hook you with an enigmatic title, hold you with delightful stories and deep ideas, and ultimately leave you better than you were before-wiser about people in general, and about yourself in particular. ” —From the Foreword by Daniel Gilbert

“The Power of Fifty Bits is a great resource for creating state of the art programs to promote wellbeing. Combining evidence for effective behavior change with practical advice, this book will transform your thinking and put you on a path to a much better life.” —Helen Darling, Strategic Advisor, National Business Group on Health

“This book proves that scientific insight doesn’t need to be dry and boring. If you want to learn how to make your organization more effective, or just to make your own life better, read it. It’s full of behavioral science insights in a fun, readable form.” —Peter Orszag, former director, Congressional Budget Office

Focusing on activating good intentions that many people already have can be much more effective than trying to change their intentions through education and increased incentives…a thoughtful, easy-to-digest approach for individuals and organizations seeking to foster better choices. —Kirkus Reviews

The Power of Fifty Bits shows you how to produce outcomes that have both high financial effectiveness and high acceptance by employees.” —Bob Ihrie, SVP, Compensation & Benefits Lowe's Companies, Inc.

“Bob Nease is a pioneer of implementing social science in business and healthcare and we are lucky to have him share his expertise.” —Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational

“Want to learn how to design approaches that spur others to achieve their goals-and that do the same for you and your own goals? With clarity, eloquence and humor, The Power of Fifty Bits shows you how.” —Robert B. Cialdini, Author of Influence