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