I have a binary classification problem where I apply logistic regression.

I have a set of features that are found significant.

But I understand that Logistic regression doesn't consider feature interactions.

While I read online that a lack of feature interaction can be accounted by adjusting logistic regression for confounders.

Currently I did this and got the significant features.

model = sm.Logit(y_train, X_train)

But how do I adjust for confounders? Any pointers to tutorial for non-stat person like me would really be helpful.

Can someone let me know on how can I do this?

  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean when you say „ adjust for confounders“? $\endgroup$
    – Peter
    Dec 27, 2019 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ I think @Noah weber's answer below has good explanation $\endgroup$
    – The Great
    Dec 27, 2019 at 13:14
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Noah and Peter, I did read up online about confounding and was able to understand what it is. However, I have few more questions which are posted in the URL shared. Am sharing the link here only becuase it's a related post/continuation of this post and request you to share your insights should you have time. datascience.stackexchange.com/questions/65600/… $\endgroup$
    – The Great
    Dec 30, 2019 at 9:47

2 Answers 2


While I'm not sure what you mean when you say "adjust for confounders", I suppose your question is about model choice (or variable/feature selection).

Here are some thoughts on this problem:

  1. Clearly define what you want to achieve: If you want to achieve a good prediction (so you are not up to causal modeling), choose a suitable metric to measure model fit. For a classification problem, you could look at the confusion matrix or AUC (but there are many more options).
  2. Choose a baseline model which you believe is a good starting point for your problem. Look at relevant metrics of this model.
  3. Try to come up with improvements: You could - for instance - work on your features and see if your "new" model performs better (based on the chosen metrics) compared to the baseline model. You can also add interaction terms (between variables) by simply multiplying variables. So when you have a model $y=\beta_0+\beta_1 x_1+\beta_2 x_2 + u$, you can also go for $y=\beta_0+\beta_1 x_1+\beta_2 x_2 + \beta_3 x_1 x_2 + u$ (Note: $\beta$ are the regression coefficients, $u$ is the error term).

Make sure you train your model on one part of your data and you test your model on another part of the data (train/test split).

Some notes on feature selection: Generally it is not a good idea to select features only by looking on significance. Why? Significance tells you if the estimated confidence interval of the coefficient of some variable/feature "crosses zero" (the interval has positive and negative values). This says little about the contribution of a variable to overall model performance. Variables can also be "jointly significant", so even non-significant (single) features can be important (in interplay with other features). Alternatively, a linear transformation of some feature may make it significant, e.g. in the case of adding polynomials (squared terms for instance) or making a logistic transformation. So in essence: don't kick out features only based on significance. By doing so, you have a fair chance of introducing the "omitted variable bias".

In case you have a lot of possibly relevant features and you are sick of doing model selection "by hand", you may also look into Lasso (or Ridge) regression. Under this approaches features are "shrunken" (automatically) when they are not so useful for a good prediction. Here is a very good intro to Lasso/Ridge/Elastic Net by Trevor Hastie and Junyang Qian. The code is in R, but the tutorial is very good.

You would surely gain from looking at the book "Introduction to Statistical Learning". Chapter 4 covers Logit in a very instructive way. Plus there is Python code for the Labs in the book, which could give you a good starting point. Reading your question, the book and the Lab code from the book, would be a natural statring point for you.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the response. Upvoted $\endgroup$
    – The Great
    Dec 27, 2019 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ I know am asking a bit too much. By reading up online and forums, I learnt that I am up for causal modeling. Would you be able to share your insights on that? Yes, I am reading online as well. $\endgroup$
    – The Great
    Dec 27, 2019 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ In addition, don't you think a correct causal model would likely be a better basis for predictive model rather than one based on a some combination of whatever variables happen to be available? $\endgroup$
    – The Great
    Dec 27, 2019 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ Causal modeling can be very hard. If I understand your problem correctly, you face what in econometrics is known as „endogeneity“. You would probably need to go for instrumental variables in this case to come up with a proper causal model. If you are „only“ interested in predictions, you can simply look at the test metrics. In causal modeling, one often prefers a robust model over a model with a better fit. $\endgroup$
    – Peter
    Dec 27, 2019 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ Exactly. Right. I am looking for a robust model $\endgroup$
    – The Great
    Dec 27, 2019 at 14:03

Confounder (lurking variable) is a variable that influences both the dependent variable and independent variable. While you are right that feature interactions are "missing" in logistic regression I am not sure how can "adjusting for confounders help"

What can definitely help is including these interactions in log.regression formula IF there are any significant ones. How do you know

  • Domain knowledge and you suspect it
  • Use random forest for example and deduce interactions from there.

How do you include them? build a second model log.regression model and average predictions for example.

Generally dont play with it, just use a model that does it automatically.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi, thanks for the response. upvoted. I mean when we say a variable is significant, we need to make sure it is not confounded by other hidden variable. Right? $\endgroup$
    – The Great
    Dec 27, 2019 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ Currently when I run a logistic regression as is using statsmodel api, it doesn't consider confounders. Am I right? Now am interested to know how can I adjust for confounding and find the significant variables. $\endgroup$
    – The Great
    Dec 27, 2019 at 13:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In addition, may I check with you whether all ML model does it automatically? Is there any specific model that I need to use? $\endgroup$
    – The Great
    Dec 27, 2019 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ Confounding is not an easy question to cover. I would suggest you check it up online. And use RF for now. LR does not cover confounding or feature interactions $\endgroup$
    – Noah Weber
    Dec 27, 2019 at 13:18

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