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.There seemed to be no end to the insights that could be offered under the banner of thinking outside the box.Speakers, trainers, training program developers, organizational consultants, and university professors all had much to say about the vast benefits of outside-the-box thinking.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.Both teams followed the same protocol of dividing participants into two groups.Overnight, it seemed that creativity gurus everywhere were teaching managers how to think outside the box.Management consultants in the 1970s and 1980s even used this puzzle when making sales pitches to prospective clients.
Rather than disproving the myth, in other words, the experiment might instead offer evidence that creativity is an ability that one is born with, or born lacking, hence why information from the environment didn't impact the results at all.
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.
The first group was given the same instructions as the participants in Guilford’s experiment.
The second group was told that the solution required the lines to be drawn outside the imaginary box bordering the dot array.
Let’s look a little more closely at these surprising results.