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Although studying creativity is considered a legitimate scientific discipline nowadays, it is still a very young one. One of Guilford’s most famous studies was the nine-dot puzzle. Guilford was one of the first academic researchers who dared to conduct a study of creativity.

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.

What the latest experiment proves is not that creativity lacks any association to thinking outside-the-box, but that such is not conditioned by acquired knowledge, i.e., environmental concerns.

In the 1970s, however, very few were even aware of its existence, even though it had been around for almost a century.

If you have tried solving this puzzle, you can confirm that your first attempts usually involve sketching lines inside the imaginary square.

The correct solution, however, requires you to draw lines that extend beyond the area defined by the dots.

At the first stages, all the participants in Guilford’s original study censored their own thinking by limiting the possible solutions to those within the imaginary square (even those who eventually solved the puzzle).

It was an appealing and apparently convincing message.

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

Yet participants’ performance was not improved even when they were given specific instructions to do so.

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

He challenged research subjects to connect all nine dots using just four straight lines without lifting their pencils from the page.