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).
Yet participants’ performance was not improved even when they were given specific instructions to do so.
It was an appealing and apparently convincing message.
Indeed, the concept enjoyed such strong popularity and intuitive appeal that no one bothered to check the facts.
Let’s look a little more closely at these surprising results.
Solving this problem requires people to literally think outside the box.
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.