Research based on the behavioral theory of the firm (BTOF) argues that firms will actively adopt strategic actions to respond to performance that falls below aspirations, that is performance shortfalls. However, most previous studies have focused on market-related strategic actions, paying less attention to the impact of performance shortfalls on non-market-related strategic actions, especially corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate social irresponsibility (CSI). In this study, we propose that firms facing performance shortfalls are likely to reduce CSR levels and increase CSI levels. In addition, we also propose that board characteristics (board size, board age and board tenure) have a significant moderating effect on the above relationship. Empirical analyses based on an unbalanced panel data of China's listed firms from 2010 to 2018 show that our arguments are largely supported.