Bob Nease – The Power of Fifty Bits: The New Science of Turning Good Intentions into Positive Results

50bitspowerBob Nease continues where Dan Ariely‘s Predictably Irrational and Daniel Kahneman‘s Thinking, Fast and Slow stop. Nease states that humans both are predictably irrational, using their intuitions, taking shortcuts where needed in decision making, and very selective in rational choices. How to change behavior? In The Power of Fifty Bits: The New Science of Turning Good Intentions into Positive Results, the author offers a design approach to get this done. The fifty bits – referring to the amount of bits reserved to conscious though compared to the ten million bits of information our brains process each second – approach is a set of powerful change strategies.

Starting point is trust in the good of people. Require Choice compels people to deliberately choose among options. New Year’s resolutions often last not longer than a week. It’s important to Lock in Good Intentions by allowing people to make decisions today about choices they will face in the future. Set the default to the desired option and let people opt out if they wish. Of course opt out must be legal and sufficiently easy.

Go where the people’s attention is naturally to be found. Fifty years ago that was television ads. When remote control made switching channels easy, you’ve got to be elsewhere communication your message. Yes, you have to Reframe the Choices: gains, losses, nearby, far away, politics, power, environmental awareness, etc. Concepts that serve as a frame to consider options and choices. Use these intentionally. Connect the desired choice or behavior with something they already like or are engaged in. Piggybacking makes the desired effect a natural side-effect of something people are likely to consider and practice. Make right choices frictionless and easy, make wrong choices more difficult. A combination of one or more of these strategies designs your product or service delivery in a way, where good intentions turn into positive results. The book’s filled with theory as well as practical examples. Nease learned it as Chief Scientist at Express Scripts, a Fortune 25 healthcare company dedicated to making the use of prescription medications safer and more affordable.


About the author
Bob Nease, PhD, served as the Chief Scientist of Express Scripts and is 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 Dartmouth Medical School. He has received the Henry Christian Award for Excellence in Research from the American Federation for Clinical Research and the URAC’s Health Care Consumer Empowerment and Protection Award. He and his wife currently divide their time between Phoenix, Austin, and Italy.