What Are Some of the Common Reasons for Admiring Someone?

Some commonly admired traits include leadership, perseverance under adversity, intelligence, wisdom, beauty, adherence to one’s own principles, making a difference in the lives of others, and prowess in business, politics, athletics or philanthropy. What is admired by one person or group of people might not be admired by others. Furthermore, much character can be discerned by observing what or who an individual chooses to admire.

A 2014 poll conducted by YouGov found that the most-admired people in the world today are, in order, Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, President Barack Obama, President Vladimir Putin, Pope Francis I and cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar. This list supports the claim that leadership and prowess are the most common reasons for admiring someone.

However, a 1999 Gallup poll found that the most-admired people of the 20th century featured activists and innovators more prominently than political, business or athletic leaders. According to that poll, the most-admired people of the 20th century are, in order: activists Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King, Jr., President John F. Kennedy, scientist Albert Einstein and activist Helen Keller. This list suggests that activism, service and charity are more admirable than other traits. Unlike the YouGov poll, the Gallup poll was conducted in the United States.

Looking back further than one century, religious figures are found to be the most-admired and influential people in all of human history: Jesus Christ and the Prophet Muhammad.