Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Jackie Chan, Michael Jordan, Taylor Swift, Queen Elizabeth II, Hillary Clinton and Chinese leader, Xi Jinping are among the favourite names topping the world’s list of famous persons from an international survey conducted in 2018 Once again, Gates and Angelina Jolie emerge as the world’s most admired man and woman in YouGov’s annual study.
Every time YouGov conducts a survey, Gates tops the list while Jolie also comes first in each of the three surveys since 2015 during which time separate male and female categories were introduced, YouGov reports former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama top the lists. In 2018, the study was expanded to cover the views of people in 35 countries which invariably means that YouGov interviewed over 37,000 people to come up with the list. The female top twenty, was dominated by entertainers, with 14 of the most admired women being actresses, singers or TV presenters (although some, like Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie, are also notable for their humanitarian work). On the part of the male, the list of most admired men contains more people from political, business and sporting circles.
Barack and Michelle Obama occupy the two second place spots, which stands for a three-position rise for Michelle and nothing new for Obama. The 44th US president is 15 places above the man that replaced him, with Donald Trump rising one place since the last study. In fact, the last US president ranks higher than the incumbent in all countries surveyed bar one: Russia.
The results are calculated from the combination of responses to two questions – whether a respondent admires the figure at all and then whether they are the figure the respondent admires the most.
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Each nation’s results in the global compilation are also weighted to represent the country’s population size. (Full methodology is available below) Thirteen Americans – six men and seven women – make the list. While Gates and Obama hold on to their spots from last year, Donald Trump and Warren Buffet, two figures lauded for their business acumen, improved their ranks from last year.
The list also introduced two male newcomers, Elon Musk and Michael Jordan. Many of the women, except Hillary Clinton, also see improvements in their ranks.
In the list of global-only figures, Obama ranks first in 19 nations, compared to only 6 for Bill Gates.
However, as the former president performs relatively poorly in populous countries like China (7th) and Russia (12th), Gates, who places in the top four in every country listed, takes the top spot. Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Chinese actor Jackie Chan have swapped places since 2016, with Chan now occupying the third place spot and Jinping in fourth. This is a result of Jackie Chan’s more universally favourable international profile: while Xi Jinping is by far the most admired man in China, Chan’s global reach is just enough to push him above the premier. Oprah Winfrey, the TV host, moves up one position to be the third most admired woman in the world, leapfrogging Queen Elizabeth II and Hillary Clinton who have fallen to fourth and fifth place respectively.
Of those public figures who remain in the global top 20 from last time, Emma Watson has seen the largest rise in the rankings climbing from 13th in 2016 to sixth this year. Also experiencing noticeable boosts are American singer Taylor Swift (from 14th to ninth) and Chinese business magnate Jack Ma (from 10th to fifth).
In December, 2017 YouGov gathered open nominations from panellists across 35 countries, asking them simply: “Thinking about people alive in the world today, which [man or woman] do you most admire?”
These nominations were then used to compile a list of the 20 men and 20 women who received the most nominations and were nominated in at least four countries. An additional 10 popular local figures were added to the lists for individual countries.