Are we becoming selfie-obsessed?

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Barely a day goes by without self-taken pictures from celebrities such as Amanda Bynes, Kelly Brook and Rihanna cluttering the internet in various stages of undress.

The downward glance, the outstretched phone arm, a bright flash and that tell-tale pout. The rise of the self-taken portrait photo, or 'selfie' is everywhere.

And it's not just celebs who are at it, we all have 'those' friends who replenish their Facebook profile pictures more often than their underwear – most often with outrageously flattering snaps.

[Related: Amanda Bynes raises more concerns for her health with latest Twitter selfies]

But has the rise in social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter made us more egotistical?

Professor Craig Jackson, Head of Psychology at Birmingham City University, says: “There used to be a relative amount of shame in a self-taken photo, but it has become quite a statement.

“The revealing or sexy 'selfie' is a guaranteed way of getting more friends or followers. Females who post pictures of themselves in a bikini guarantee hundreds of male followers.

“The user is constantly looking for that picture which will hook visitors in, and it's a very good way of getting attention."

He continued: “Taking your own picture is, of course, fairly narcissistic. But we all have some element of narcissism.

“For some, narcissism involves power and control or intellectual superiority, they enjoy lauding over other people by being smarter than them.

[Related: Celeb selfies in pics]

“For others, it involves their looks, vanity and how they appear. Frequently changing a profile picture suggests someone is wanting to show off their physical characteristics.

“I certainly think that social networking sites encourage narcissistic behaviour. After all these are websites where people post what they had for breakfast, what colour their socks are.”

But aside from being mildly irritating, is there any real harm in the constant uploading of 'selfies'?

Professor Jackson explains: “More recently, what's been termed 'the slut pose', hand on hip, turning hip to the camera, in a knowing way, has caused concern among some parents, that these kinds of photos are taking away children's innocence.

“That kids don't smile for the camera anymore, they pout and preen and try to look like celebrities.

“There is also another element, internet stalking. 'Selfies' are a great way of letting a potential stalker get a very good idea of what you are like.

“Now that technology allows us to endlessly take and publish photos of ourselves, it does give potential stalkers more material, and makes it much easier for them.”

”I can’t deny uploading a toned, tanned and tactical beach body picture once in a while”

Web designer and regular profile picture updater, Lee Walpole, 26, from Essex says: “Photos are a great way of ‘showing off’ - well for me at least. Secretly, I feel we all want to have the best profile picture and go to different extremes to get it.

“As a single guy looking for girls, a decent Facebook page is like having a good CV when applying for a job. It’s a must.”

Lee changes his Facebook profile picture up to three times a week. “I change it each time I participate in something new: go karting, nights out, casino, football or whatever,” he says.

For Lee, posting certain photos sends a message. “Secretly we’ve all tried using the power of Facebook to get a reaction out of someone, right?

“I have so many examples of when I’ve used photos and clever statuses to win the interest of the opposite sex – and it works almost every time.

“Nothing beats a natural smile whilst doing something fun, but I can’t deny uploading a toned, tanned and tactical beach body pic every once in a while. I don’t have a favourite photo of myself, as such. I like the majority of my profile pics.

“No man should take a mirror photo. It’s embarrassing and sad. The only times I’ve 'selfied' is when I want to track the progress of my abs – if any of them appeared on Facebook, it would have been by mistake. Ahem.”

“There’s an art to it though – it’s not as easy as just uploading cool pics - because if the ‘target’ clocks on to what you’re doing, you’ll look a fool.

“In February 2011, my ex-girlfriend was working away and we were going through a rough patch.

“In a bid to make her jealous, I gathered my boys and went out to Manchester. I vowed to find the most attractive girl in the club and get a pic taken with her.

“The response I received after making the gorgeous blonde my profile picture was far more than I’d hoped. Before the strategic photograph received a single comment or like – my ex had removed our relationship status - and that was the end of that.”

What do you think of selfies? Tell us over on Twitter, now.

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