Religion is a social system in which people follow specific moral codes and practices. Often, these beliefs are derived from certain books, such as the Bible and the Koran, and are interpreted by religious leaders as authoritative. Participants in a religion practice collective prayer, individual meditation, and moral conduct. These practices have practical consequences for everyday behavior. For example, members of a religion may follow strict dress codes or moral codes, or they may adhere to rules of justice and healthcare.
In the United States, religious groups comprise eight to eleven percent of the population, with more women than men being members of these groups. They are concentrated in the South and West coasts, and are primarily composed of Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers. In addition to religion, many people practice polytheism. These groups believe in God but do not feel the need to adhere to one particular religion.
Some researchers have studied the differences between religion and spirituality. They found that while the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same. When religion is used in this manner, it can lead to confusion. For example, some sources define religion as attending church or praying. Others define it as having an individual soul.
In a recent study, researchers conducted interviews with 1281 U.S. adults aged 18 and older and asked them to rate various statements relating to their spirituality and religion. Results showed that people with an intrinsic religious orientation tended to be less reactive to stress than people with an extrinsic religious orientation – those who use religion for external purposes. Moreover, research has also revealed that people who practice religion tend to experience tangible benefits, including improved physical health.