Finite element simulations of different shear deformations in non-linear elasticity are presented. We pay particular attention to the Poynting effects in hyperelastic materials, complementing recent theoretical findings by showing these effects manifested by specific models. As the finite element method computes uniform deformations exactly, for simple shear deformation and pure shear stress, the Poynting effect is represented exactly, while for the generalised shear and simple torsion, where the deformation is non-uniform, the solution is approximated efficiently and guaranteed computational bounds on the magnitude of the Poynting effect are obtained. The numerical results further indicate that, for a given elastic material, the same sign effect occurs under different shearing mechanisms, showing the genericity of the Poynting effect under a variety of shearing loads. In order to derive numerical models that exhibit either the positive or the negative Poynting effect, the so-called generalised empirical inequalities, which are less restrictive than the usual empirical inequalities involving material parameters, are assumed. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.