Boasting may take a well-recognized verbal form or it may be achieved more subtly through display of symbols of power, wealth, honours or other achievements. It tends to contain elements of bluffing opponents or rivals as well as joy in seeing oneself reflected in the mirror of one's own praise. When true it is carefully edited but easily develops into lying. Boasting may thus provide a disguise for inaction, when boasting about an action is easier than undertaking that action in reality.
In its most calamitous form, social boasting, the escalation of claims and counter-claims between rivals is the pattern which underlies the arms race and efforts to maintain and reinforce inequality. In situations characterized by corruption, boasting of licentiousness (as during the Restoration) exacerbates the phenomenon.