Fixation density maps (FDM) created from eye tracking experiments are widely used in image processing applications. The FDM are assumed to be reliable ground truths of human visual attention and as such, one expects a high similarity between FDM created in different laboratories. So far, no studies have analyzed the degree of similarity between FDM from independent laboratories and the related impact on the applications. In this paper, we perform a thorough comparison of FDM from three independently conducted eye tracking experiments. We focus on the effect of presentation time and image content and evaluate the impact of the FDM differences on three applications: visual saliency modeling, image quality assessment, and image retargeting. It is shown that the FDM are very similar and that their impact on the applications is low. The individual experiment comparisons, however, are found to be significantly different, showing that inter-laboratory differences strongly depend on the experimental conditions of the laboratories. The FDM are publicly available to the research community. © 2012 IEEE.