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Most people assume that 60 percent to 90 percent of the group given the clue would solve the puzzle easily. What’s more, in statistical terms, this 5 percent improvement over the subjects of Guilford’s original study is insignificant.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.

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.

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.

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. But you will find numerous situations where a creative breakthrough is staring you in the face.

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

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