Creative thinking exercise: seeing dots

Recognise that other interpretations exist

In the illustration below pink dots appear to flash on and off. Now focus on the plus symbol in the centre of the circle and the moving dot will turn green. As you keep looking, gradually all the pink dots will turn green.

Creative thinking dots

Creative thinking dotsM Bach & JL Hinton © 2005

What this optical illusion illustrates is that the same information can contain more than one is possible to look at your problem from a different angle and arrive at an entirely unexpected answer; this is what creative thinking means. The more unexpected the solution the more ‘creative’ it is perceived to be.

Unlike the pink dots, most things when stared at do not transform before our eyes. Staring or banging your head against a brick wall are not going to yield the answer.

It’s when you have a sore head that you most need creative thinking. The key is to understand that multiple angles do exist around any problem, however simple it may at first appear. It is by finding those angles that you can release the answers. So whatever the problem be aware that what you have to look for first are different angles of approach, not the final solution.


Explanation of the optical illusion: The illusion relies on ‘persistence of vision’. Light falling on the retina stimulates nerves but it takes time for the stimulation to clear. Instead of a blank gap, where pink blinks we mistakenly see the complementary colour green.

Creative thinking exercise: seeing dots
Creative thinking exercise: seeing dots
Creative thinking shows that the same information can contain more than one interpretation. Multiple angles exist around any problem.
  • Hi Donald,

    That’s a very interesting experiment. :) It was weird for me. At first, the dots were purple and only one green. Then, the dots became green on the outside of the puple dots creating a second circle.

    Great analogy of mentioning multiple angles exist around any problem. I’m not always a positive person, but where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?

    I was going to click on your click to tweet banner, but it is too light to read… Just a heads up. Hope to help.

    Have a great weekend and thanks for a thought-provoking article.

    Take Care,
    – Carol :)

    • Thank you for telling me about the banner being too light, I had no idea. I went for a fashionably grey font but it must just be too fashionable. Thanks again.

      • You’re welcome – that’s better. Had already shared via Twitter from icon, but just shared the banner also. Have a great weekend. :)

        • Thank you, instant feedback!

  • This is a lesson that, while simple, should not be understated. Thanks for sharing this perspective.

    • Thanks for commenting, Keegan, I do think it’s important.