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Two experiments tested the competing item-specific and semantic cohesion hypotheses of emotional memory enhancement. The item-specific hypothesis predicts that emotional words receive more item-specific and less relational processing than neutral words, whereas the semantic cohesion hypothesis posits more relational processing of emotional words. In both experiments, emotional words were better remembered than neutral words. However, Experiment 1 found no support for either hypothesis; emotional and neutral words did not differ in the amount of either item-specific or relational processing, as measured by item gains and losses across repeated tests. Experiment 2 found that the memory advantage of emotional over neutral words did not differ as a function of the type of orienting task in which participants engaged. Several methodological explanations for the absence of the hypothesized findings are discussed along with future directions for research.