Carl Dunker devised an experiment called the candle problem in the 1950’s. In it he gathered a group of individuals, gave them a candle, some thumb tacks and a box arranged in the way pictured above and told them that their job was to attach the candle to the wall in such a way that the wax didn’t drip on the table.
Dunker found that the people would try all sorts of creative ideas such as taking the thumb tacks and tacking the candle to the wall or try to melt the wax onto the wall so the candle would stick. Eventually after an average of 5-10 minutes the participants worked out that if you emptied the box you could tack the box to the wall and put the candle in it (See below)
Sam Glusburg later took this idea and developed it. Glusburg broke the participants into 2 groups – One group were not offered a reward. The second group were told that if you are in the top 20% of the fastest people to solve the puzzel you get a $5 reward and if you are the fastest at solving the puzzle you will get $20.
So what were the results?