Management of common-pool natural resources is commonly implemented under institutional models promoting devolved decision-making, such as co-management and community-based management. Although participation of local people is critical to the success of devolved commons management, few studies have empirically investigated how individuals’ participation is related to socioeconomic factors that operate at multiple scales. Here, we evaluated how individual- and community-scale factors were related to levels of individual participation in management of community-based marine protected areas in Indonesia. In addressing this aim, we drew on multiple bodies of literature on human behaviour from economics and social science, including the social-ecological systems framework from the literature on common-pool resources, the theory of planned behaviour from social psychology, and public goods games from behavioural economics. We found three key factors related to level of participation of local people: subjective norms, structural elements of social capital, and nested institutions. There was also suggestive evidence that participation was related to people’s cooperative behavioural disposition, which we elicited using a public goods game. These results point to the importance of considering socioeconomic factors that operate at multiple scales when examining individual behaviour. Further, our study highlights the need to consider multiscale mechanisms other than those designed to appeal to self-interested concerns, such as regulations and material incentives, which are typically employed in devolved commons management to encourage participation. Increased understanding of the factors related to participation could facilitate better targeting of investments aimed at encouraging cooperative management.