It was an appealing and apparently convincing message. 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.
SHARE Although studying creativity is considered a Arguably essays by christopher hitchens mobi scientific discipline nowadays, it is still a very young one. If you have tried solving this puzzle, you can confirm that your first attempts usually involve sketching lines inside the imaginary square.
Or so their consultants would have them believe. The correct solution, however, requires you to draw lines that extend beyond the area defined by the dots.
Today many people are familiar with this puzzle and its solution.
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. Management consultants in the s and s even used this puzzle when making sales pitches to prospective clients.
They are much more common than you probably think. In the s, however, very few were even aware of its existence, even though it had been around for almost a century.
Solving this problem requires people to literally think outside the box.
The second group was told that the solution required the lines to be drawn outside the imaginary box bordering the dot array. Indeed, the concept enjoyed such strong popularity and intuitive appeal that no one bothered to check the facts.
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.
That is, direct and explicit instructions to think outside the box did not help. Because the solution is, in hindsight, deceptively simple, clients tended to admit they should have thought of it themselves.
In the early s, a psychologist named J. Most people assume that 60 percent to 90 percent of the group given the clue would solve the puzzle easily. Speakers, trainers, training program developers, organizational consultants, and university professors all had much to say about the vast benefits of outside-the-box thinking.
But you will find numerous situations where a creative breakthrough is staring you in the face. Guilford was one of the first academic researchers who dared to conduct a study of creativity. In fact, only a meager 25 percent did.
Both teams followed the same protocol of dividing participants into two groups. Only 20 percent managed to break out of the illusory confinement and continue their lines in the white space surrounding the dots.
Would you like to guess the percentage of the participants in the second group who solved the puzzle correctly? 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. 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. 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.
In other words, the difference could easily be due to what statisticians call sampling error.Thinking Outside the Box: A Misguided Idea The truth behind the universal, but flawed, catchphrase for creativity. Posted Feb 06,Download