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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.Only 20 percent managed to break out of the illusory confinement and continue their lines in the white space surrounding the dots.

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

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.

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

It was an appealing and apparently convincing message.

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.

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

Most people assume that 60 percent to 90 percent of the group given the clue would solve the puzzle easily. What’s more, in statistical terms, this 5 percent improvement over the subjects of Guilford’s original study is insignificant.

After all, with one simple yet brilliant experiment, researchers had proven that the conceptual link between thinking outside the box and creativity was a myth. But you will find numerous situations where a creative breakthrough is staring you in the face.

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.

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