Thinking Outside the Box: A Misguided Idea. Thinking Outside the Box: A Misguided Idea.

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

The symmetry, the beautiful simplicity of the solution, and the fact that 80 percent of the participants were effectively blinded by the boundaries of the square led Guilford and the readers of his books to leap to the sweeping conclusion that creativity requires you to go outside the box.

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In other words, the difference could easily be due to what statisticians call sampling error. The correct solution, however, requires you to draw lines that extend beyond the area defined by the dots.

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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 the early s, a psychologist named J.

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


Overnight, it seemed that creativity gurus everywhere were teaching managers how to think outside the box. There seemed to be no end to the insights that could be offered under the banner of thinking outside the box. Today many people are familiar with this puzzle and its solution.

Only 20 percent managed to break out of the illusory confinement and continue their lines in the white space surrounding the dots. But you will find numerous situations where a creative breakthrough is staring you in the face.

The idea went viral via s-era media and word of mouth, of course. He challenged research subjects to connect all nine dots using just four straight lines without lifting their pencils from the page.

It was an appealing and apparently convincing message.

The truth behind the universal, but flawed, catchphrase for creativity.

Both teams followed the same protocol of dividing participants into two groups. Solving this problem requires people to literally think outside the box. Would you like to guess the percentage of the participants in the second group who solved the puzzle correctly?

That is, direct and explicit instructions to think outside the box did not help. If you have tried solving this puzzle, you can confirm that your first attempts usually involve sketching lines inside the imaginary square.

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They are much more common than Dating mappin webb silver plate marks probably think.