October 14, 2008 / 1:04 PM / 10 years ago

Gates, Winfrey, Jolie top in responsibility poll

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!)- Bill Gates topped the business category and Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie scored high marks but many Americans said they had difficulty naming a responsible leader or celebrity, according to a new poll.

Actress Angelina Jolie arrives for the New York Film Festival premiere of "Changeling" in New York, October 4, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Most of the 1,001 Americans questioned in the survey said they valued responsibility, but they just didn’t see enough of it in other people.

“The index shows that people want more responsibility in their lives, but they’re not always certain how to achieve that goal,” said Kathy McManus, of Liberty Mutual Group, a global insurance company that conducted the poll.

“There’s no playbook for responsibility, so increasingly we see individuals working to create their own.”

Fifteen percent of people chose Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, as their top responsible business leader and eight percent named Winfrey and Jolie as their choice in the celebrity stakes.

But 33 percent said they couldn’t select a celebrity that embodies responsibility and 37 percent had the same response when asked about a business leader.

More than three-quarters of the people questioned believe reality television shows have a negative impact on personal responsibility, and a similar number thought media attention on celebrity lifestyles diminished people’s sense of responsibility.

When asked to rank themselves, teachers, young Americans and married couples gave themselves the highest marks for responsibility.

“Americans associate personal responsibility with family obligations and the effects of one’s actions on others,” the company said in a statement.

Seventy percent of Americans said they thought they had become more responsible in the past five years, while 74 percent said they believed other people had become less responsible during the same period.

“And on average, more than 70 percent of Americans believe teenagers, young adults and parents are somewhat or much less responsible than 20 years ago,” it added.

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