Realistic modelling of the interaction between surgical instruments and human organs has been recognised as a key requirement in the development of high-fidelity surgical simulators. Primarily due to computational considerations, most of the past real-time surgical simulation research has assumed linear elastic behaviour for modelling tissues, even though human soft tissues generally possess non-linear properties. For a non-linear model, the well-known Poynting effect developed during shearing of the tissue results in normal forces not seen in a linear elastic model. Using constitutive equations of non-linear tissue models together with experiments, we show that the Poynting effect results in differences in force magnitude larger than the absolute human perception threshold for force discrimination in some tissues (e.g. myocardial tissues) but not in others (e.g. brain tissue simulants).