Is it normal to get values for response that are $> 1$ even though in logistic regression the response has meaning only in the range $[0,1]$?

Does one then have to truncate all $> 1$ values to mean just $1.0$?

The reason for asking is that

I got something that looked like it might have response $> 1$ using a skin variable (1 means skin that's more prone to get sunburn and 0 means normal skin), a trt variable (1 signifies that the patient took beta carotene and 0 that the patient didn't) and then a cancer variable that signifies, whether the patient got skin cancer during the study. So $cancer \text{ ~ } trt+skin$ produces $$cancer=0.1331410+0.5570949⋅trt+0.627890⋅skin$$ (these coefficients are after taking invlogit() of the coefficients returned by glm())
which is $>1$ if both variables $==1$.

Although, when seeing whether such rows actually exist (where $skin=trt=1$), no such rows exist.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you referring to the predicted values of the logistic regression? It's not entirely clear. $\endgroup$
    – Ian_Fin
    Oct 19, 2016 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Ian_Fin Yes, also known as response variable or Y. $\endgroup$
    – mavavilj
    Oct 19, 2016 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ This should be impossible, that is the entire idea of logit, predicted probabilities exactly equal to 1 can happen, and typically indicates a degenerate model or perfect separation in the data. $\endgroup$
    – Repmat
    Oct 19, 2016 at 15:37
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "The above coefficient values are after taking invlogit()." - this does not make sense to me. What does it mean? It's better if you update your Q with this information, btw, instead of posting it in the comments. $\endgroup$
    – amoeba
    Oct 19, 2016 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ One must wonder why you are hand-cranking these computations rather than using R's prepackaged methods for making predictions with a glm model object. $\endgroup$
    – Sycorax
    Oct 19, 2016 at 17:01

1 Answer 1


You are not getting probabilities because you are confusing the order of operation between adding the coefficients and taking the inverse logit.

Explanation: You have a logistic model given by $$logit(Pr(cancer=1|trt,skin,\beta)) = \beta_0 + \beta_1 * trt + \beta_2 * skin$$

You are trying to calculate a probability (I denote this quantity by $Pr^*$, since it's not a probability) by doing the following:

$$Pr^*(cancer=1|trt,skin,\beta) = logit^{-1}(\beta_0) + logit^{-1}(\beta_1 * trt) + logit^{-1}(\beta_2 * skin)$$

When it should be this:

$$Pr(cancer=1|trt,skin,\beta) = logit^{-1}(\beta_0 + \beta_1 * trt + \beta_2 * skin)$$

Note that, in general $$logit^{-1}(A+B) \neq logit^{-1}(A) + logit^{-1}(B)$$

We would say that a non-linear transformation on a sum of two variables is not equal to the sum of the transformed variables, except in special, trivial cases.

This would be easier to see if you used a log-linear model instead of a logistic model: $$exp(A+B)\neq exp(A) + exp(B)$$ Since we know that $$exp(A+B)= exp(A)*exp(B)$$

In other words, to get a probability, you first find the log-odds at trt=skin=1 as

$logit(Pr(cancer=1|trt,skin,\beta)) = -1.873468 + 0.229380*trt + 0.5231755*skin$ $logit(Pr(cancer=1|trt=1,skin=1,\beta)) = -1.873468 + 0.229380*1 + 0.5231755*1$ $logit(Pr(cancer=1|trt=1,skin=1,\beta)) = -1.120912$

And then transform: $$Pr(cancer=1|trt=1,skin=1,\beta) = logit^{-1}(-1.120912) = 0.2458422$$


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