Psychonomic Science

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 321–323

The nine-dot problem: Beyond perceptual organization

  • Clarke A. Burnham
  • Kenneth G. Davis
Perception & Performance Senses

DOI: 10.3758/BF03335259

Cite this article as:
Burnham, C.A. & Davis, K.G. Psychon Sci (1969) 17: 321. doi:10.3758/BF03335259


A dozen versions of the nine-dot problem were individually administered. Instructions stating that S could extend his lines beyond the boundary of the square formed by the nine dots were marginally effective in increasing the number of Ss who solved the problem in a 10-min period. Presenting two extra dots outside the square dramatically increased the number of solvers. It was concluded that perceptual organization, seeing the dots as a confining square, is a minor factor in making the problem a difficult one. The source of the difficulty is, instead, the fact that the sequence of lines involved in the solution is nonobvious.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Journals, Inc. 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clarke A. Burnham
    • 1
  • Kenneth G. Davis
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TexasAustinUSA

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