Youth drool at cool

January 30, 2004

Tony Blair should perhaps have recruited David Beckham, Brad Pitt and Justin Timberlake to sell the idea of top-up fees to students, if a survey by Leicester University psychologists is anything to go by.

A poll of more than 2,500 young Britons found that they considered these celebrities "the most important people" to them. Mr Blair ranked 69th, rubbing shoulders with illusionist David Blaine.

The survey was a pilot for a worldwide study. It revealed that looks and media exposure rather than intellectual prowess have the greatest impact on young people.

Nelson Mandela, in 14th place, emerged as the most popular politician and arguably the only person in the top 20 representing a clear moral or political ideology.

George W. Bush slumped to the bottom of the league, ranked below 100th, alongside Jesus.

Royalty got a mixed response. While the late Diana, princess of Wales, came in at 11th place and Prince William ranked 42nd, the queen fielded just four votes.

Psychologist Adrian North, who is a member of the research team, said:

"Although people could have voted for great political thinkers or artists, their top ten comprised Hollywood stars, pop musicians and a footballer.

What links all the names in our top ten is their looks."

At least Mr Blair might take some consolation from the fact that Tory leader Michael Howard failed to win a single vote.

Details: A questionnaire for the next phase of the research can be found at www.celebritystudy.com

TOP TEN MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE TO STUDENTS

1 DAVID BECKHAM

2 BRAD PITT

3 JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE

4 MICHAEL JACKSON

5 JENNIFER LOPEZ

6 ROBBIE WILLIAMS

7 ORLANDO BLOOM

8 BRITNEY SPEARS

9 KEANU REEVES

10 ANGELINA JOLIE

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