In other words, the difference could easily be due to what statisticians call sampling error.
That is, direct and explicit instructions to think outside the box did not help.
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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Guilford was one of the first academic researchers who dared to conduct a study of creativity.
He challenged research subjects to connect all nine dots using just four straight lines without lifting their pencils from the page.
Today many people are familiar with this puzzle and its solution.
In the 1970s, however, very few were even aware of its existence, even though it had been around for almost a century.
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.