The world leaders barometer, conducted by market research institute Harris Interactive for the International Herald Tribune and French broadcaster France 24, put Merkel in second place, wedged between Obama and Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in a scale that combined both influence and notoriety.
Compared to a similar poll last year, Merkel's popularity increased slightly, particularly in the US and the UK, where she has not traditionally enjoyed good favour. She was most popular in France, where 69 percent of those polled said they had a “very good” opinion of her.
She was least popular in the US, where 30 percent placed her in the “very good” category.
Meanwhile Obama's popularity in Germany has seen “some erosion, especially in Germany,” the study said.
The opinion of German Pope Benedict XVI “keeps decreasing, especially among his German and Italian fellow-citizens,” the poll found, a result which may be due a recent scandal involving the reinstatement of a controversial bishop and Holocaust denier.
Some 6,332 people in France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Italy and the US were polled between April 29 and May 6.