Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre Ventures into Online Dating Business

The Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre (the Centre) today announces its expansion into online dating. Tired of its policy proposals falling on deaf ears and jaded by the bickering in the LegCo, the Centre has decided to divert its energy away from typical socioeconomic issues and towards the more important business of matchmaking for lonely Hongkongers.

To that end, the Centre has launched an online platform that allows users to rate the physical attractiveness of others. True to the Centre’s public policy heritage, the initial version of the platform will randomly present users with the official photographs of 2015 District Council election candidates.

Users will be able to rate candidates on a 1-4 scale of likeability: Super Dislike, Dislike, Like and Super Like. As with the online dating app Tinder, users can indicate their preferences by swiping in different directions on their phones or by pressing buttons below the candidates’ photos. However, unlike Tinder, users will not be matched with anyone. Instead, they will be given points for each favoured candidate who was elected to the District Council and for each disfavoured candidate who was not elected. Users will then be presented with a score representing their ability to predict the outcome of the District Council elections.

Explaining Bauhinia's strategic rationale for capturing this untapped segment of the online dating marketplace, the Centre’s Vice-Chairman Lau Ming-wai said, "Swipe-based online dating apps, such as Tinder, are fun and simple! These days, technology allows us to find our lifelong partners with just a simple photo and finger swipe." Lau has personal experience with Tinder, having downloaded the app a week ago. Yet after indulging in Tinder for several days, Lau was dismayed to find that no local politicians were currently using the app.

Lau believes that if potential spouses can be selected just by viewing photoshopped portraits on Tinder, surely elected officials can be chosen in this manner as well. In fact, overseas studies have already demonstrated that political candidates' physical appearances and campaign photos can have a statistically significant bearing on poll results.  The Centre had also released an article ‘Face-Off: The importance of Appearance in Elections’ earlier this year.

The Centre’s Chairman Dr Donald Li said, "Of course, we can't actually connect users with politicians. But through this platform, we can evaluate the physical likeability of political candidates and correlate their likeability with election results.” Regarding the potential for less attractive candidates to be offended by the platform’s results, Lau reiterated, “We won't release ratings for individual candidates, but we will present our findings at the aggregated level. Our focus is on assessing trends amongst all candidates and voters.”

For many voters, candidates can all sound the same. Parties from both ends of the spectrum tend to repeat clichéd slogans and empty promises. This sensation of simultaneously having an abundance and a lack of meaningful options can also be felt when mindlessly browsing profiles on Tinder. We hope that the Centre’s contribution to online dating will add some much-needed levity to the stressful and tedious process of selecting our romantic partners and elected officials. Dr Li commented, “Like Tinder, this is just a game to be enjoyed when the mind is bored.” Lau concluded, “If the experience of our users is anything like my experience with Tinder, then ‘your face’ may determine ‘your fate’ in more ways than one.”