Management consultants in the s and s even used this puzzle when making sales pitches to prospective clients. After all, with one simple yet brilliant experiment, researchers had proven that the conceptual link between thinking outside the box and creativity was a myth. Indeed, the concept enjoyed such strong popularity and intuitive appeal that no one bothered to check the facts. Or so their consultants would have them believe. If you have tried solving this puzzle, you can confirm that your first attempts usually involve sketching lines inside the imaginary square. 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. Solving this problem requires people to literally think outside the box. No one, that is, before two different research teams —Clarke Burnham with Kenneth Davis, and Joseph Alba with Robert Weisberg—ran another experiment using the same puzzle but a different research procedure. The correct solution, however, requires you to draw lines that extend beyond the area defined by the dots. Both teams followed the same protocol of dividing participants into two groups. That is, direct and explicit instructions to think outside the box did not help. In the s, however, very few were even aware of its existence, even though it had been around for almost a century.
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