It's long been known that we humans tend to anthropomorphise the world around us. Pets are treated like little people, we assign evil intent to table corners in the middle of the night and some of us would prefer it if it was possible to marry our cars.
It turns out that we do the same with robots. A study, to be released at the annual International Communications Association conference in London in June, has concluded that people show the same emotional and physiological reaction to seeing robots being treated badly as they do watching humans. Interestingly enough, the same was not noticed when watching robots being treated affectionately.
While this study deals with the immediate reaction, it does lay the groundwork for further research into how we are going to react to a world where robots are increasingly becoming accepted as main stream.