Understanding drivers of deforestation is essential for developing any successful intervention to reduce forest degradation or loss, yet there remains relatively little consensus or clarity on how drivers should be identified and classified. To capture the full range of values and mediating factors that may contribute to land-use behaviours, an approach derived from a shared values perspective that includes a range of values associated with whole landscapes and ecosystems is required. We developed a model that combines behavioural theory with the Capability Approach as a conceptual framework through which to investigate the value–action gap. We used exploratory factor analysis (EFA) of Likert-scale responses to belief statements in order to identify land users’ shared values in the Sarstún Motagua region of Guatemala. We then qualify and quantify the role of capabilities in mediating between the shared values of different cultural groups of land users (Q’eqchi Maya and Ladinos) by comparing their factor scores with their self-reported forest cover change behaviours. Our results indicate that Maya and Ladinos share a set of values, but hold different value orientations that predict their behavioural intentions. We find that their different value orientations reflect behavioural intentions, but an understanding of the capabilities available to different groups is also necessary to fill the value–action gap. These findings have implications for behavioural theory, providing empirical links between shared values, capabilities and behaviour and identification of the role of value orientations, as well as demonstrating a useful approach for decision-makers seeking to understand drivers of change at landscape and whole-ecosystem levels.