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In the 1970s, however, very few were even aware of its existence, even though it had been around for almost a century.

If you have tried solving this puzzle, you can confirm that your first attempts usually involve sketching lines inside the imaginary square.

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.

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.

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Both teams followed the same protocol of dividing participants into two groups.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.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.

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