There seemed to be no end to the insights that could be offered under the banner of thinking outside the box.

Speakers, trainers, training program developers, organizational consultants, and university professors all had much to say about the vast benefits of outside-the-box thinking.

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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In the 1970s, however, very few were even aware of its existence, even though it had been around for almost a century.

If you have tried solving this puzzle, you can confirm that your first attempts usually involve sketching lines inside the imaginary square.

In other words, the “trick” was revealed in advance.

Would you like to guess the percentage of the participants in the second group who solved the puzzle correctly?

The first group was given the same instructions as the participants in Guilford’s experiment.

The second group was told that the solution required the lines to be drawn outside the imaginary box bordering the dot array.Let’s look a little more closely at these surprising results.Solving this problem requires people to literally think outside the box.No one, that is, before two different research teams—Clarke Burnham with Kenneth Davis, and Joseph Alba with Robert Weisberg—ran another experiment using the same puzzle but a different research procedure.Both teams followed the same protocol of dividing participants into two groups.For example, there have been some theories such as those of Schopenhauer (see his remarks about Genius) and Freud (see his remarks about Sublimation) that propose creativity is something more like a capacity provided by nature rather than one acquired or learned from the environment.