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Guilford was one of the first academic researchers who dared to conduct a study of creativity.
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.
In the 1970s, however, very few were even aware of its existence, even though it had been around for almost a century.
Only 20 percent managed to break out of the illusory confinement and continue their lines in the white space surrounding the dots.
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.
For example, there have been some theories such as those of Schopenhauer (see his remarks about Genius) and Freud (see his remarks about Sublimation) that propose creativity is something more like a capacity provided by nature rather than one acquired or learned from the environment.The second group was told that the solution required the lines to be drawn outside the imaginary box bordering the dot array.In other words, the “trick” was revealed in advance.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.