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The correct solution, however, requires you to draw lines that extend beyond the area defined by the dots.At the first stages, all the participants in Guilford’s original study censored their own thinking by limiting the possible solutions to those within the imaginary square (even those who eventually solved the puzzle).Overnight, it seemed that creativity gurus everywhere were teaching managers how to think outside the box.Management consultants in the 1970s and 1980s even used this puzzle when making sales pitches to prospective clients.That this advice is useless when actually trying to solve a problem involving a real box should effectively have killed off the much widely disseminated—and therefore, much more dangerous—metaphor that out-of-the-box thinking spurs creativity.

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Indeed, the concept enjoyed such strong popularity and intuitive appeal that no one bothered to check the facts.

Yet participants’ performance was not improved even when they were given specific instructions to do so.

That is, direct and explicit instructions to think outside the box did not help.

They are much more common than you probably think.*From Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results Copyright 2014 Drew Boyd There are many theories of creativity.

What the latest experiment proves is not that creativity lacks any association to thinking outside-the-box, but that such is not conditioned by acquired knowledge, i.e., environmental concerns.

Although studying creativity is considered a legitimate scientific discipline nowadays, it is still a very young one. One of Guilford’s most famous studies was the nine-dot puzzle.

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