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Management consultants in the 1970s and 1980s even used this puzzle when making sales pitches to prospective clients.
Because the solution is, in hindsight, deceptively simple, clients tended to admit they should have thought of it themselves.
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.
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.
Even though they weren’t instructed to restrain themselves from considering such a solution, they were unable to “see” the white space beyond the square’s boundaries.
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.
(Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.) Events are held throughout the year so we can get together and do what we like best; run, talk about and tinker with old outboards.
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