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

Both teams followed the same protocol of dividing participants into two groups.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.The idea went viral (via 1970s-era media and word of mouth, of course).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.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.

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