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

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

In other words, the difference could easily be due to what statisticians call sampling error.

Let’s look a little more closely at these surprising results.

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.

There seemed to be no end to the insights that could be offered under the banner of thinking outside the box.

Our Word of the Year choice serves as a symbol of each year’s most meaningful events and lookup trends.

It is an opportunity for us to reflect on the language and ideas that represented each year.

Would you like to guess the percentage of the participants in the second group who solved the puzzle correctly?

Most people assume that 60 percent to 90 percent of the group given the clue would solve the puzzle easily. What’s more, in statistical terms, this 5 percent improvement over the subjects of Guilford’s original study is insignificant.

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.

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

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