Interpreting multiple linear regression: A guidebook of variable importance

Laura L. Nathans, Frederick L. Oswald, Kim Nimon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

352 Scopus citations


Multiple regression (MR) analyses are commonly employed in social science fields. It is also common for interpretation of results to typically reflect overreliance on beta weights (cf. Courville & Thompson, 2001; Nimon, Roberts, & Gavrilova, 2010; Zientek, Capraro, & Capraro, 2008), often resulting in very limited interpretations of variable importance. It appears that few researchers employ other methods to obtain a fuller understanding of what and how independent variables contribute to a regression equation. Thus, this paper presents a guidebook of variable importance measures that inform MR results, linking measures to a theoretical framework that demonstrates the complementary roles they play when interpreting regression findings. We also provide a data-driven example of how to publish MR results that demonstrates how to present a more complete picture of the contributions variables make to a regression equation. We end with several recommendations for practice regarding how to integrate multiple variable importance measures into MR analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalPractical Assessment, Research and Evaluation
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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