Who are the world's 50 most famous/recognizable living people?
December 4, 2009 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Help us settle a workplace debate in a scientific manner: Do you know of any research studies that have objectively identified the 50 most famous/recognizable living people in the world today?

We're trying to determine if Tiger Woods is (or is not) among the world's 50 most famous/recognizable living people and have struggled to find a credible answer. We seek studies that take into consideration the entire world, not just the Western World, for example.

A quick Web search produced lists that are USA-centric. We're looking for studies that take a world-wide perspective.
posted by ciocarlia to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Quick point, famous and recognizable aren't necessarily the same thing. I bet Pele is one of the most famous, I bet he's not one of the most recognizable.
posted by oddman at 10:25 AM on December 4, 2009

The Q Score is a measurement of the familiarity and appeal of a brand, company, celebrity, or television show, used in the United States. The higher the Q Score, the more highly-regarded the item or person is among the group that is familiar with them. Q Scores and other variants are primarily used by the media, marketing, advertising and public relations industries.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:48 AM on December 4, 2009

Oh, but you wanted international versions ... I'm sure this company that does the Q Scores, Marketing Evaluations, can point you in the right direction.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:50 AM on December 4, 2009

Response by poster: To answer oddman's question: we're more interested in fame. That is, we define the most famous person in the world as the person whom the greatest number of people could identify, either by name or appearance.

Cool Papa Bell: Thanks for the link, but it's a little different from what we're looking for. We're not interested in how highly-regarded a person is (e.g., Osama Bin Laden is more famous than Tiger Woods, but probably not as highly-regarded overall).
posted by ciocarlia at 12:13 PM on December 4, 2009

Could you do your own content analysis? You could choose a news organization that is used by international media outlets (perhaps Reuters) and perform a content analysis of the past year's stories (Lexis Nexis is useful for this). Identify keywords that would qualify a story as one that focuses on a particular individual, i.e., a name appears in the headline or first paragraph (again, Lexis Nexis has a search engine that will do this), and produce a numerical comparison of names. For example, how many times was Tiger Woods mentioned compared to the number of times, say, Barack Obama was mentioned. Of course, there are HUGE limitations and holes in this basic research, but it could give you a general idea.
posted by AlliKat75 at 1:53 PM on December 4, 2009

But what about people in obscure places? What if African Pygmies know who Tom Hanks is, but not Bill Gates, who probably has more mentions in the media?
posted by cmoj at 3:25 PM on December 4, 2009

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