In a set of experiments, my lab determined whether computers could leverage this bonding. For half of the participants, we gave people a blue wristband, put a blue border around the computer, and told the participant that they and the computer were "the blue team." The other half of participants were also given a blue wristband, but they worked with a green-bordered monitor and were told that they were the "blue person working with the green computer." Although every other aspect of the 40-minute interaction was the same, the "team" participants thought that the computer was smarter and more helpful and they worked harder because of the special "bonds" between the two teammates.
To have Clippy learn about his users would have required advanced artificial intelligence technology, along with a great deal of design and development time. An alternate approach is to use a social strategy. The simplest and most effective way for dislikable people to become more accepted is for them to find a scapegoat.
In an experiment, we revised Clippy so that when he made a suggestion or answered a question, he would ask, "Was that helpful?" and then present buttons for "yes" and "no." If the user clicked "no," Clippy would say, "That gets me really angry! Let's tell Microsoft how bad their help system is." He would then pop up an email to be sent to "Manager, Microsoft Support," with the subject, "Your help system needs work!" After giving the user a couple of minutes to type a complaint, Clippy would say, "C'mon! You can be tougher than that. Let 'em have it!"
The system was showed to 25 computer users, and the results were unanimous: People fell in love with the new Clippy. A long-term business user of Microsoft Office exclaimed, "Clippy is awesome!" An avowed "Clippy hater" said, "He's so supportive!"
Link thanks to at Less Wrong.