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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.

What the latest experiment proves is not that creativity lacks any association to thinking outside-the-box, but that such is not conditioned by acquired knowledge, i.e., environmental concerns.

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.

That this advice is useless when actually trying to solve a problem involving a real box should effectively have killed off the much widely disseminated—and therefore, much more dangerous—metaphor that out-of-the-box thinking spurs creativity.

The idea went viral (via 1970s-era media and word of mouth, of course).In other words, the “trick” was revealed in advance.Would you like to guess the percentage of the participants in the second group who solved the puzzle correctly?Overnight, it seemed that creativity gurus everywhere were teaching managers how to think outside the box.Management consultants in the 1970s and 1980s even used this puzzle when making sales pitches to prospective clients.

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