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Most People Can’t Name a Single CEO

Jan 20, 2016

According to a new study, more than half the people in the world are unable to name even one CEO.

Edelman's annual Trust Barometer measures the general population's trust in NGOs, business, media, and government. As part of the report, the public relations firm asked respondents to name a chief executive officer—just one. 48% admitted they were unable to do so, while a full 60% either said they couldn't or attempted to name a CEO and failed.

The study was conducted in 10 countries with a total of 10,000 respondents—1,000 in each country, 200 of which were members of the "informed public," except for the U.S. and China where the informed public made up half of all respondents.

According to Edelman, the informed public is defined as those who are over 25 years old, have a college education, are in the top 25% of household income per their age group, and regularly engage in media consumption, business news, and public policy. These criteria make them much more likely to be able to name at least one CEO, giving the U.S. and China an advantage over the other eight countries.

Germany had the lowest rate of capable respondents with 57% admitting they were unable to name a CEO and 80% who actually couldn't. The U.K. appeared to have the most honest respondents, as 68% acknowledged their inability, the same number of people who actually couldn't answer the question. The U.S. was just above half in both categories, with a respective 54% and 53%. The country with the best rates was India, where 38% of respondents were unable to answer the question. The most highly named CEO was Mark Zuckerberg, with 10% of respondents identifying him as their answer.

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