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

Yet participants’ performance was not improved even when they were given specific instructions to do so.

The second group was told that the solution required the lines to be drawn outside the imaginary box bordering the dot array.

In other words, the “trick” was revealed in advance.

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.

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

The correct solution, however, requires you to draw lines that extend beyond the area defined by the dots.

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.

Speakers, trainers, training program developers, organizational consultants, and university professors all had much to say about the vast benefits of outside-the-box thinking.

It was an appealing and apparently convincing message.

Management consultants in the 1970s and 1980s even used this puzzle when making sales pitches to prospective clients.

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