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The first group was given the same instructions as the participants in Guilford’s experiment.

Although studying creativity is considered a legitimate scientific discipline nowadays, it is still a very young one. One of Guilford’s most famous studies was the nine-dot puzzle.

Guilford was one of the first academic researchers who dared to conduct a study of creativity.

Because the solution is, in hindsight, deceptively simple, clients tended to admit they should have thought of it themselves.

Because they hadn’t, they were obviously not as creative or smart as they had previously thought, and needed to call in creative experts. The nine-dot puzzle and the phrase “thinking outside the box” became metaphors for creativity and spread like wildfire in marketing, management, psychology, the creative arts, engineering, and personal improvement circles.

It's an interesting experiment, but the author's conclusion cannot possibly follow from the results of it.

your conclusion: that the second experiment disproves the theory that thinking outside the box is useful in solving problems, is itself a fallacy.

It was an appealing and apparently convincing message.

Indeed, the concept enjoyed such strong popularity and intuitive appeal that no one bothered to check the facts.

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).

Let’s look a little more closely at these surprising results.

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