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It was an appealing and apparently convincing message.

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.There seemed to be no end to the insights that could be offered under the banner of thinking outside the box.Speakers, trainers, training program developers, organizational consultants, and university professors all had much to say about the vast benefits of outside-the-box thinking.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.

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.

Solving this problem requires people to literally think outside the box.

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