Statesboro, GA, USA
Believers may not be aware of the effect of positing a God that is willing to put a non-believer into Hell for eternity for non-compliance. It certainly effects people with no particular belief structure. Many religions in fact are willing to say outright that wisdom begins with the fear of God. The other stories about God's love and Faith will come later.
As to whether it is simply 'posited' or not, is the whole question of faith or unbelief. However, the doctrine of Hell cannot be so neatly separated from the Grace and Love of God. In short, it is bad Theology to make the two contradictory, though of course it is the latter (the love and grace) that makes it possible to avoid the former. The fact is, the best of loves can possibly be spurned.
In C.S. Lewis' "The Pilgrim's Regress" there is a conversation between the main character John, and his Guide or interpreter, that illustrates what I'm talking about:
John: What about the charge of cruelty?'
Guide: I was just coming to that. The Landlord has taken the risk of working the country with free tenants instead of slaves in chain gangs: and as they are free there is no way of making it impossible for them to go into forbidden places and eat forbidden fruits. Up to a certain point he can doctor them even when they have done so, and break them of the habit. But beyond that point -- you can see for yourself. A man can go on eating mountain-apple so long that nothing will cure his craving for it: and the very worms it breeds inside him will make him more certain to eat more. You must not try to fix the point after which a return is impossible, but you can see that there will be such a point somewhere.'
John: But surely the Landlord can do anything?
Guide: He cannot do what is contradictory: or, in other words, a meaningless sentence will not gain meaning simply because someone chooses to prefix to it the words "the Landlord can." And it is meaningless to talk of forcing a man to do freely what a man has freely made impossible for himself.'
John: I see. But at least these poor creatures are unhappy enough: there is no need to add a black hole.
Guide: The Landlord does not make the blackness. The blackness is there already wherever the taste of mountain-apple has created the vermiculate will. What do you mean by a hole? Something that ends. A black hole is blackness enclosed, limited. And in that sense the Landlord has made the black hole. He has put into the world a Worst Thing. But evil of itself would never reach a worst: for evil is fissiparous and could never in a thousand eternities find any way to arrest its own reproduction. If it could, it would be no longer evil: for Form and Limit belong to the good. The walls of the black hole are the tourniquet on the wound through which the lost soul else would bleed to a death she never reached. It is the Landlord's last service to those who will let him do nothing better for them.
I guess, what I'm trying to say, is that it is the very grace and mercy of God to receive those who come at first for sheer self preservation, rather than out of love. That's certainly not the highest motivator of faith by any means. But for many, contemplating the destiny of one's will, is a unsettling starting point that gets them going.
I would say if this truly "effects" people of no religious inclination, it is the jarring imposition of truth. The answer one gives to the question of whether this is merely a psychological side-effect of social values upon an individual, or a truth about reality that is communicated through culture (and existentially through one's own thoughts), will still largely depend upon belief or unbelief.
Things like moral guilt, fear of perdition, and apprehension of the numinous, are things that happen to "unbelievers" as well. Yes, of course these can have their false foundations (for example, we all know that false-guilt exists, and can be imposed by others or self for fallacious reasons). But false examples do not invalidate that there are real ones.