Robots may be able to make humans bend to their will in a chilling vision of the future, a new study has found.
Scientists in Germany discovered that robots already have the power to manipulate people by being friendly and making humans "feel sorry" for them.
An experiment found that many people decided not to turn of a humanoid because it told them it was scared of the dark.
The groundbreaking research ruled that people tend to treat mechanoids in the same way they would treat another person - and struggle to be rude to them.
A study by a team at the University of Duisburg-Esssen found this means they can be guilt-tripped.
It said: "People tend to treat electronic devices similar to how they would treat a fellow human being and thus, to mistreat a robot should be considered reprehensible."
To prove this theory, 89 volunteers were asked to interact with a humanoid named Nao.
From this group, Nao begged 43 of them not to turn it off - with around 30% being persuaded.
Of these, several people said they felt sorry for the robot, and some saying they had not switched the robot off because it had asked them not to.
The researchers also discovered that if Nao addressed the person in a fearful voice, they were more likely to do what it asked.
Their study said: "Eight participants felt sorry for the robot, because it told them about its fears of the darkness.
"The participants explained that they did not want the robot to be scared and that this statement affected them."
One said it had been "fun" to interact with Nao, and continued: "I would have felt guilty."