How to Perform a Lack of Fit Test in R (Step-by-Step)

A lack of fit test is used to determine whether or not a full regression model offers a significantly better fit to a dataset than some reduced version of the model.

For example, suppose we would like to use number of hours studied to predict exam score for students at a certain college. We may decide to fit the following two regression models:

Full Model: Score = β0 + B1(hours) + B2(hours)2

Reduced Model: Score = β0 + B1(hours)

The following step-by-step example shows how to perform a lack of fit test in R to determine if the full model offers a significantly better fit than the reduced model.

Step 1: Create & Visualize a Dataset

First, we’ll use the following code to create a dataset that contains the number of hours studied and exam score received for 50 students:

#make this example reproducible

#create dataset
df <- data.frame(hours = runif(50, 5, 15), score=50)
df$score = df$score + df$hours^3/150 + df$hours*runif(50, 1, 2)

#view first six rows of data

      hours    score
1  7.655087 64.30191
2  8.721239 70.65430
3 10.728534 73.66114
4 14.082078 86.14630
5  7.016819 59.81595
6 13.983897 83.60510

Next, we’ll create a scatterplot to visualize the relationship between hours and score:

#load ggplot2 visualization package

#create scatterplot
ggplot(df, aes(x=hours, y=score)) +

Step 2: Fit Two Different Models to the Dataset

Next, we’ll fit two different regression models to the dataset:

#fit full model
full <- lm(score ~ poly(hours,2), data=df)

#fit reduced model
reduced <- lm(score ~ hours, data=df) 

Step 3: Perform a Lack of Fit Test

Next, we’ll use the anova() command to perform a lack of fit test between the two models:

#lack of fit test
anova(full, reduced)

Analysis of Variance Table

Model 1: score ~ poly(hours, 2)
Model 2: score ~ hours
  Res.Df    RSS Df Sum of Sq      F   Pr(>F)   
1     47 368.48                                
2     48 451.22 -1   -82.744 10.554 0.002144 **
Signif. codes:  0 ‘***’ 0.001 ‘**’ 0.01 ‘*’ 0.05 ‘.’ 0.1 ‘ ’ 1

The F test-statistic turns out to be 10.554 and the corresponding p-value is 0.002144. Since this p-value is less than .05, we can reject the null hypothesis of the test and conclude that the full model offers a statistically significantly better fit than the reduced model.

Step 4: Visualize the Final Model

Lastly, we can visualize the final model (the full model) relative to the original dataset:

ggplot(df, aes(x=hours, y=score)) + 
          geom_point() +
          stat_smooth(method='lm', formula = y ~ poly(x,2), size = 1) + 
          xlab('Hours Studied') +

Visualizing lack of fit in R

We can see that the curve of the model fits the data quite well.

Additional Resources

How to Perform Simple Linear Regression in R
How to Perform Multiple Linear Regression in R
How to Perform Polynomial Regression in R

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