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How to Calculate DFBETAS in R

by Tutor Aspire

In statistics, we often want to know how influential different observations are in regression models.

One way to calculate the influence of observations is by using a metric known as DFBETAS, which tells us the standardized effect on each coefficient of deleting each individual observation.

This metric gives us an idea of how influential each observation is on each coefficient estimate in a given regression model.

This tutorial shows a step-by-step example of how to calculate and visualize DFBETAS for each observation in a model in R.

Step 1: Build a Regression Model

First, we’ll build a multiple linear regression model using the built-in mtcars dataset in R:

#fit a regression model
model #view model summary

             Estimate Std. Error t value Pr(>|t|)    
(Intercept) 30.735904   1.331566  23.083  

Step 2: Calculate DFBETAS for each Observation

Next, we’ll use the built-in dfbetas() function to calculate the DFBETAS values for each observation in the model:

#calculate DFBETAS for each observation in the model
dfbetas as.data.frame(dfbetas(model))

#display DFBETAS for each observation

                      (Intercept)         disp            hp
Mazda RX4           -0.1174171253  0.030760632  1.748143e-02
Mazda RX4 Wag       -0.1174171253  0.030760632  1.748143e-02
Datsun 710          -0.1694989349  0.086630144 -3.332781e-05
Hornet 4 Drive       0.0577309674  0.078971334 -8.705488e-02
Hornet Sportabout   -0.0204333878  0.237526523 -1.366155e-01
Valiant             -0.1711908285 -0.139135639  1.829038e-01
Duster 360          -0.0312338677 -0.005356209  3.581378e-02
Merc 240D           -0.0312259577 -0.010409922  2.433256e-02
Merc 230            -0.0865872595  0.016428917  2.287867e-02
Merc 280            -0.1560683502  0.078667906 -1.911180e-02
Merc 280C           -0.2254489597  0.113639937 -2.760800e-02
Merc 450SE           0.0022844093  0.002966155 -2.855985e-02
Merc 450SL           0.0009062022  0.001176644 -1.132941e-02
Merc 450SLC          0.0041566755  0.005397169 -5.196706e-02
Cadillac Fleetwood   0.0388832216 -0.134511133  7.277283e-02
Lincoln Continental  0.0483781688 -0.121146607  5.326220e-02
Chrysler Imperial   -0.1645266331  0.236634429 -3.917771e-02
Fiat 128             0.5720358325 -0.181104179 -1.265475e-01
Honda Civic          0.3490872162 -0.053660545 -1.326422e-01
Toyota Corolla       0.7367058819 -0.268512348 -1.342384e-01
Toyota Corona       -0.2181110386  0.101336902  5.945352e-03
Dodge Challenger    -0.0270169005 -0.123610713  9.441241e-02
AMC Javelin         -0.0406785103 -0.141711468  1.074514e-01
Camaro Z28           0.0390139262  0.012846225 -5.031588e-02
Pontiac Firebird    -0.0549059340  0.574544346 -3.689584e-01
Fiat X1-9            0.0565157245 -0.017751582 -1.262221e-02
Porsche 914-2        0.0839169111 -0.028670987 -1.240452e-02
Lotus Europa         0.3444562478 -0.402678927  2.135224e-01
Ford Pantera L      -0.1598854695 -0.094184733  2.320845e-01
Ferrari Dino        -0.0343997122  0.248642444 -2.344154e-01
Maserati Bora       -0.3436265545 -0.511285637  7.319066e-01
Volvo 142E          -0.1784974091  0.132692956 -4.433915e-02

For each observation, we can see the difference in the coefficient estimate for the intercept, the variable disp, and the variable hp that occurs when we delete that particular observation.

Typically we consider an observation to be highly influential on the estimate of a given coefficient if it has a DBETAS value greater than a threshold of  2/√n where n is the number of observations.

In this example, the threshold would be 0.3535534:

#find number of observations
n nrow(mtcars)

#calculate DFBETAS threshold value
thresh sqrt(n)


[1] 0.3535534

Step 3: Visualize the DFBETAS

Lastly, we can create plots to visualize the DFBETAS value for each observation and for each predictor in the model:

#specify 2 rows and 1 column in plotting region

#plot DFBETAS for disp with threshold lines
plot(dfbetas$disp, type='h')
abline(h = thresh, lty = 2)
abline(h = -thresh, lty = 2)

#plot DFBETAS for hp with threshold lines 
plot(dfbetas$hp, type='h')
abline(h = thresh, lty = 2)
abline(h = -thresh, lty = 2)


In each plot, the x-axis displays the index of each observation in the dataset and the y-value displays the corresponding DFBETAS for each observation and each predictor.

From the first plot we can see that three observations exceed the absolute value of the threshold of 0.3535534 and in the second plot we can see that two observations exceed the absolute value of the threshold.

We may choose to investigate these observations more closely to determine if they’re overly influential in estimating the coefficients in the model.

Additional Resources

How to Perform Simple Linear Regression in R
How to Perform Multiple Linear Regression in R
How to Calculate Leverage Statistics in R
How to Calculate DFFITS in R

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