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I do believe that confidence helps in this matter.
The "signals" one gives off, of the confidence in your ability to thwart an attack, is often picked up by predators who are looking for an unsuspecting and easy prey. Of course knowledge and practice goes hand in hand with confidence. The more you know and the more often that you practice what you know as close to reality as you can make it, the more confident you will become.
Experience has a lot to do with it also.
When a predator is scanning the room or area that you are in, you can convey this "internal state of confidence" by never lowering your eyes or glancing at the exit door. This is an art in itself as much as physical self-defense is. One that should be practiced as much as well. Of course you cannot hold your stare on this predator or he will take that as a direct challenge. It is similar to attacking someone because you perceive that they will attack you first. This confidence is definately non verbal and non physical self defense.
"Fear is the mind killer" - quote from the book "Dune." One should not be "fearful" of an attack. A lack of confidence or fear can be directly attributed to a lack of knowledge, experience, or improper training in reality situations. If you are not aware of your surroundings at all times, you may be fearful if you are surprised and don't react quick enough.
Awareness builds confidence and diminishes fear no matter how much knowlegde and training that you have.