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The second group was told that the solution required the lines to be drawn outside the imaginary box bordering the dot array.
In other words, the “trick” was revealed in advance.
Both teams followed the same protocol of dividing participants into two groups.
The first group was given the same instructions as the participants in Guilford’s experiment.
Solving this problem requires people to literally think outside the box.
Yet participants’ performance was not improved even when they were given specific instructions to do so.
Did you want to be the one who captured Alias Smith and Jones, or the Beast Master?
Let’s look a little more closely at these surprising results.The idea went viral (via 1970s-era media and word of mouth, of course).Overnight, it seemed that creativity gurus everywhere were teaching managers how to think outside the box.Because they hadn’t, they were obviously not as creative or smart as they had previously thought, and needed to call in creative experts. The nine-dot puzzle and the phrase “thinking outside the box” became metaphors for creativity and spread like wildfire in marketing, management, psychology, the creative arts, engineering, and personal improvement circles.There seemed to be no end to the insights that could be offered under the banner of thinking outside the box.
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Guilford was one of the first academic researchers who dared to conduct a study of creativity.